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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Easter Shenanigans

I have precisely one Easter tradition in my house. Hell, it's probably the only actual holiday tradition I have.
The house I lived in about 14 years ago backed up against a winding creek that formed the border of my little town. The creek made a fairly straight run through my property but then made a sharp right turn as it headed east. So the patch of land between my house and my neighbor's house was a 3/4 acre triangle swatch peppered with oak trees and tiger lillies that had spread from the roadside path. During the summer, the trees were full enough to form an impervious curtain that provided total isolation between the two properties. But starting in late fall and lasting until mid-spring, I could sit on my back deck and see my neighbor sitting on his though the bare trees.
It was on such a early spring Saturday evening when Robyn and I were laying in the chaise on one of the first semi-warm nights of the season. We began to watch as our neighbor, Ron (maybe in his mid-50's then), walking around his backyard in with no discernible pattern or purpose. He'd walk behind a tree, bend over, walk across to the flower garden, bend over, and so on. This went on before we figured out what he was doing - hiding little plastic Easter eggs for his grandkids to search for the next day.
Now for most people, this might seem a precious & tender moment to be enjoyed and savored. After all, I lived In a town seemingly painted by either Norman Rockwell or Thomas Kincade, depending which side of town you were on. But for us, it was an opportunity for some slightly more, well, not-quite-malicious activities.
"Would you like some Peeps?" I asked her as my neighbor headed inside, task completed. She playfully slugged me, but I knew her thinking was along the same lines as mine.
We drank a bottle and a half of Louis Jadot Bourgogne until we saw the lights go out next store. We crept though the woods until simply planning on stealing some Peeps and Cadbury eggs neatly contained in a small plastic egg. But then we found the first egg, it's outer shelled scribes in block letters, "Audrey". The next we found was labeled Ethan. It turns out all were marked with the names of one of his 5 grandkids.
We crouched behind a tree plotting our next course of action. The fair thing to do would be to steal candy equally from each child's egg. The evil thing to do would be to steal all the candy from only one child's eggs, thereby sentencing him/her to a lifetime of low self-esteem and feelings of familial inadequacy and alienation.
But then Robyn asked, "How much cash do you have?".
I pulled out my money clip and she extracted a fifty dollar bill.
"Which name is your favorite?", she asked next.
"Hmmm, let's go with Nora".
She walked over to the bird feeder, picked up an egg labeled "Nora", opened it up, inserted the fifty, re-sealed it, placed it gently where it was, grabbed my hand and led me back home sans chocolate or Peeps.
We woke early the next morning and drank coffee on the dock along the creek where we had a full perspective on the festivities next door.
A "ready....set...GO!". Five kids, toddlers through elementary, scramble through the yard. A 5 year year old girl (presumably Nora) squeals in delight. The four others, seeing her bounty, now dash madly around the property looking for their own $50 egg..... To no avail. Confused parents. Ron in a state of complete disbelief. Kids begin to cry. Nora fiercely protecting her priceless egg. Parents begin to argue.
While Robyn and I drink hazelnut coffee, blissful and contented.
Nora got fifties for the next two years with the same results. The following year Ron tried to head off the holiday disaster by putting one $50 bill in each of the kids' eggs. I replaced Nora's fifty with a $100 bill.
The kids stopped getting eggs when they hit about 14 years old, but the older kids would be replaced with younger ones, one of which would always be selected at random for added cash from me. I think Ron began to suspect I was involved, but abandoned that theory when it continued after I moved away.
So early in the morning every Easter, I sneak into Ron's yard for another round of holiday shenanigans.


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