It’s going to be a tough Easter to get through this year, as it will be the first Easter that my mother is gone. We won’t be discussing my ideas for eggs because, since I’m now in Texas, she can do the same and no one would be the wiser. (As you read, you’ll see that my mother Karen was egg-challenged.) There won’t be any Easter menu talk, or commentaries on the church sermons we attended. Just the other day it made me sad that I had to scratch my flower order for her table centerpiece. I’ve been saving our eggs since 1995 but I just can’t bring myself to putting them out, maybe next year.
Moving on to this weekend; Handsome Cowboy’s family invited us on an Easter camping outing so hanging with his gang of gregarious loving folk complete with a bunch of great kids, ranging in age from 16 years to 2 months, should hopefully lessen the grief.
I do however have extremely fond memories of Easters past to hang on to because ever since I can remember my family held its Annual Cut Throat Easter Egg Coloring Contest the Saturday before. Initially, it was called The Annual Easter Egg Coloring Contest but everyone knew it was ruthless and years later ‘Cut Throat’ was added.
My first memory of our Easter egg coloring contests finds me sitting on a hope chest at the long egg table festooned with dyes and straddled with chairs pulled from every room in the house, down in my grandparent’s basement. The din of fun-loving competition rang in my ears and the smell of vinegar filled my nostrils. We had a real-life “Everyone Loves Raymond” situation going on, as Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house was literally across the street from us in Lindenhurst, NY. My Uncle Ronnie, one of twin boys and younger brother to my mom Karen, lived there too.
Uncle Richie, my mom’s other brother came out to The Island from Brooklyn with Aunt Aggie. Uncle Ronnie and Richie were my godfathers and they were the most loving and sarcastically funny guys in my life next to my dad. Of course my mom, dad, and my brother Brian would be there too…at the beginning of my memories.
Back then Grandma was the only judge, and my Uncle Ron was notorious for coloring eggs that included telling inscriptions like “Pick Me Mom,” “I Love You Mom,” “Don’t Vote for Any Other Egg but This Egg Mom.” This went on for years and it was a bone of contention among the competing adults. Bri and I had a ball and got chocolate bunny prizes no matter what so we just laughed at the screwy grown up antics and cringed that they were our family all at the same time.
After several years of predictable, continuous wins for Gram’s ‘favorite boy Ronnie,’ there was an uprising and the rules of the contest were finally changed. There would now be voting. Everyone got 2 votes and could only vote for their egg once.
As the years went by my mom had my brother Craig, and Uncle Richie had Lisa, then Ronnie but no matter what was going on in our lives, no one missed The Easter Egg Coloring Contest. In fact, more and more family and friends and neighbors would find themselves as welcomed contestants in our contests. This was no ordinary contest and I’m sure that some probably went home shaking their heads realizing that they just colored eggs with a bunch of crazy lunatics!
How crazy was it? Let’s put it this way, we were allowed any props we wanted but an egg had to be used. For instance, Uncle George once dyed and painted an egg to look like a green olive and tossed it into a martini glass. That egg was a winner as I recall. Long tables of dyes, paints, glitter, rubber bands, glues, glue sticks and glue guns, construction paper, tapes in various thicknesses, cotton balls, crayons, markers, feathers and felt, you name it and it was on the table.
After Mom, Craig then I moved to South Florida, some flew miles with their own props packed in their bags to ensure they had the necessary elements to produce the award-winning egg. (Aunt Sharon was a slick egger.) Some participants literally hid out in different rooms to color their eggs; I lie to you not. They’d show to drop an egg in this dye or that dye, then scamper off so no one could ‘copy’ their idea.
Eventually we decided that the contestants would have the chance to ‘present their eggs’ for voting consideration. Most everyone in my family was in sales and it was the time in the coloring contest that we most enjoyed. The monologues were hysterical because most everyone in the gang was a comedian and the spiels would keep us all in stitches.
Karen became infamously known as the ‘Pilot Fish Egger;’ where her efforts came off as hysterical attempts to gain fame (and a prize) by attaching her egg to a ‘contender egg.’ Two of her classic attempts come to mind and make me chuckle as I write this. One of us made a fab E.T. egg when Steven Spielberg’s movie was huge what in the 80’s? Well, right when it came time for judging my mother slipped in a plain orange-colored egg and when we called her on it, she claimed it was a ”Reese’s’ Pieces.” Another year someone made a nun egg dressed in a black and white habit and again, she managed to slip in a black egg at the base of the nun’s skirt with “The Bible” written upon it. No prizes for Mom but I always looked forward to seeing what she’d try next.
When the kids in our clan turned 13, we were automatically placed in the Adult egg voting category, and no more instantaneous chocolate bunny prizes were rewarded. It was the same with Poker. My family played Poker as long as I can remember coloring eggs.
Okay, I know I’m supposed to be talking about egg coloring but I’ve got to touch on our Poker games because it shows how cut throat these people, my family, we are. If you were a kid in my family you had to pay your dues for years, in the sole hope of eventually earning the right to play poker, by stacking the change piles of a relative. Think of a Dickens’ work house…in mycase I was usually stacking Uncle Ronnie’s quarters, nickels and dimes. Sometimes did it for my dad but he didn’t tip as well as Unc. We learned how to play the game this way and eventually, they let us in but boy did we get a talking-to if we played a bad hand. Uncle Richie stills yells at us when we don’t bet right or do something stupid…and we’re all adults now!
Now that we’re in Texas I brought the Egg Coloring Contest with me and we now do it with Handsome Cowboy’s family. There are a lot of great artists in this family so the stakes are higher here! Nuts.
Texas is wacky. My niece Coral, a character in mychildren’s picture book LUCCI- THE NO SMOOCHIE POOCHIE, came out last year to visit over Easter break. We took her to our feed & seed place over in Gatesville and they had ‘colored’ babychicks. (See slide show) They literally have dye injected into their eggs and they hatch in living color! Of course she had to have a couple and of course Aunt Donna is a total softie and I caved.
We’ll be doing eggs at a campsite on Lake Belton this weekend which should be a challenge in itself, and I’ll post some of the entries on Facebook and Twitter. Wish me luck because I don’t have one single idea in my head! Does anyone have a good egg idea I can use?
Here’s wishing a nice holiday to you and yours. Please feel free to email shots of your winning eggs and I’ll post them here. (dlsadd at Gmail dotcom)
Happy Easter Everyone!
P.S. Send me your winning egg ideas…PLEASE I need help!