March 24, 2013
I’m delighted to see in the stores now those little boxes of Paas Easter egg coloring kits that they bring out at this time of year. I remember those when I was a kid, and I’m surprised those kits are still around after more than 50 years.
Back then Mom would get one of those, and when we’d get home she’d color Easter eggs. She must’ve felt I was too young, or she might’ve feared the mess I’d likely make. Or maybe she just wanted to hog the fun for herself.
The kits back then had three methods to decorate eggs. First, you could drop a color tablet into a coffee cup, the tablet would dissolve, then you’d drop in an egg to color it.
And there were some transfers you could use to imprint nice designs on eggs. Finally, there was a special crayon you could use to draw your own design. Mom tried to keep that one away from little ol’ me.
One year I picked out a favorite egg. It was a brown egg, and Mon had placed a transfer, of a cross covered with vines. I was drawn to the beauty of the design and the Easter message it carried.
As I hunted eggs that year I’d look for my favorite egg with the cross. When I found it I’d be delighted, and I’d drop it eagerly into my little Easter basket. When somebody else found the egg during a subsequent hunt, I was jealous.
Come Easter Sunday afternoon all the egg hunting was over - I had exhausted adults with my pleas to hide eggs just one more time - and it was time to begin feasting on the hard-boiled eggs.
I found myself in a dilemma. I didn’t want to eat my favorite egg. It was too pretty.
So we’d munch on the other eggs, and I’d stick my favorite egg at the bottom of the basket trying to hide it. The egg collection dwindled as evening approached.
Come Monday only the egg with the imprint of the cross was left. I didn’t want to eat it. “It’ll go bad,” Mom reminded me.
So what would I do?
At Easter kids used to look forward to getting new clothes. And adults used to look forward to buying new clothes for kids.
As a little boy I didn’t care much for clothes. But as I approached my teen years, some years after the egg incident, a new Easter jacket got my attention.
It was double-breasted jacket, light yellow with vertical navy pinstripes. Mom found it at JC Penny when there was a store on East Main Street in Elkin in the current Kennedy’s location. That coat was flashy, even by late ’60s standards.
So here I go on an Easter Sunday morning in a jacket that would have made Elvis proud. Yes, I was overdressed but enjoying it.
That is until a buddy next to me in the pew started giggling during the preaching service. He pointed out a store tag still on the bottom of the sleeve at the left wrist. Mom and I had overlooked it.
I was horrified. The last thing a kid wants is to be laughed at by a buddy, so I tried to rip off the tag.
It wouldn’t come off. It was one of those tags stitched securely at the four corners. So then I gave it a big, desperate yank. Along with the tag I ripped off a nice piece of the pinstriped fabric.
The Easter sermon was glorious, but I all I could think about was the fire and brimstone preaching I would get at home when I showed this to Mom.
Actually, she took the bad news pretty well and tried to sew the torn piece back on the sleeve.
But the vertical stripes didn’t line up quite right, and my new Sunday jacket that had made me look so cool had become like one of those eggs you try to boil but something goes wrong.
Frequently there’s one egg that cracks in the pot of boiling water, some of the egg white runs out and congeals, and then you just don’t want it.
So my flashy Easter jacket hung in the closet for the most part.
No matter how pretty something is, it won’t stay that way. Things break. Things get old. Things change. You outgrow things like an Easter jacket. At other times, things outgrow you.
So on that Monday after Easter I looked over that egg with the pretty cross design. I picked it up and held it in my hand. I studied it and thought I would never see such a pretty Easter egg again. And I never did.
Then with a sigh I cracked and peeled the thing and gobbled it down.
After all, I do like hard-boiled eggs.
Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.