"Do you still want to have an Easter egg hunt?" I asked my teenager, somewhat nervously.
"Of course," he replied, giving me that confused, why-would-you-even-ask-that look.
Phew! I had been worried that he had decided he was too old for such things. I am big on tradition and we have always had an Easter egg hunt. I wasn't ready to give it up just yet. I was pretty sure my 11-year-old wasn't either, but what fun would an egg hunt be for just one person?
Thus reassured our tradition would continue for at least another year, I dutifully began washing out four dozen plastic eggs, all the while grumbling to myself about why they can't manufacture clean ones. Although we dyed eggs just for the fun of it, it was the plastic variety that we used for the hunt. I had bags of candy hidden away that I would use to fill them later on and, thinking the kids would probably appreciate finding some money hidden in a few, made a mental note to look for cash. As I dried the eggs, my mind drifted back to the Easter egg hunts I had enjoyed as a child.
Each year, my mom, sisters, and I would get dressed in our new Easter dresses (and patent leather shoes when I was really young) and head off to church. While we were gone, my dad would hide the eggs we had dyed the previous day. No plastic eggs for us! When we came home, the hunt was on. We lived in the same house my entire childhood, so there were really only so many places to hide eggs, making it easier to find them as the years progressed. Still, my dad usually managed a couple of surprises each year. Because these were hard boiled eggs we were searching for, it was imperative that every egg be found. This led to a lot of counting and recounting and repeated "Did you find the one in the . . . ?" I don't think my mom relaxed until every last one had been accounted for.
It's kind of funny, but the truth is I actually hated hard boiled eggs. (I'm still not a fan.) Yet it was a tradition I loved and eagerly anticipated each year. It never occurred to me to think, "I don't even like eggs. Why bother looking for them?" I don't know if I knew this at the time, but I have come to understand it wasn't about the eggs at all. It was about the hunt and the discovery and the satisfaction that came from finding that which had been hidden.
I hope my sons feel the same way: that the simple joy of the hunt is worth so much more than the prize at the end.