Easter with the Family

imageEaster egg hunts with my cousins were a lot more like cage boxing than gentle competitions. I had more than forty first cousins, mostly wild animals. By the time my aunts and uncles herded them to the scene of the crime, they just opened the car doors and all Hell broke loose. Exhausted from defending themselves and the babies on the ride over, it was every man for himself. God help anybody in the way.

They’d rip through the house under the guise of needing the bathroom and a drink of water, destruction in their wake, before being cast out into the yard like demons into swine. Actually, they were cast out onto the other cousins. We’d get a baseball or football team going, all the big kids on one team, so the little ones never got a chance to bat, or got mowed down in football. They’d go squalling in to their nosy daddies who’d come out long enough to straighten us out a vague semblance of fairness, often lingering to play a while.

Once the egg hunt started, it was chaos. It was survival of the meanest, shoving kids down, stomping eggs little ones dropped, squalling, and even a few bloody noses. Crazy Larry kept trying to pee on us while we were distracted. One aunt in particular didn’t think her big kids ought to have to share at the end of the hunt, even though they had twenty eggs and babies had none. “They found ‘em!” It didn’t matter that she’d only brought a dozen eggs to the hunt.

Ah, family. Better get busy. I have company coming. But not Crazy Larry. He’s in the witness protection program.

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Champ and the Easter Hat

Horse and Hat

Illustration by Kathleen Holdaway Swain

I knew Champ, our horse, loved me since he trotted up to the fence every time he saw me. I carefully held my hand flat and let him snuffle up goodies with his velvety muzzle. My big sister said it he’d love anyone who slipped him apples, sugar and carrots, but she was just being mean. I didn’t tell my friends and cousins the trick, so they were scared he’d bite them. Before long, I found he could help himself to treats out of my pocket or off my shoulder.

My grandmother had written that she was coming for Easter and bringing Easter outfits with hats and shoes. I didn’t hear much except the part about outfits with hats and shoes. I was thrilled! I had been dying for a cowboy outfit with red boots, red hat, and shiny pistols in a holster but Mother said I needed other things worse. Good old Grandma knew what really mattered! I was up before daylight waiting for her. Breakfast and lunch dragged by…..…..nothing. I was getting more and more upset. Maybe Grandma wasn’t coming. Maybe she got lost. Just before dark an old black car crept up. We all flew out to the car, trying to get to her first. “What did you bring me? What did you bring me?” Mother tried to shush us, but nobody listened. Grandma was slow getting out of the car and slower getting in the house. No wonder it took her so long to get here. We got busy and helped with her bags and a big brown box from the back seat. There was plenty of room in there for a cowboy suit and lots of other good stuff.

Even though we were dying, Mother made us wait till Grandma went to the bathroom, got a cup of coffee, and caught her breath. She was slow at that, too. Finally, Grandma got the scissors and started cutting the strings on the box. She was so old her fingers shook. It took forever. I could have ripped into that box in a second, but would Mother let me? Noooooo!

Just before I died of old age, Grandma started pulling things out of the box. I knew she always saved the best for last. I got a gumball machine full of gumballs. That was great!! Next she pulled out a baby doll and handed it to me. Grandma couldn’t seem to remember I hated dolls, but I tried to be nice about it. All baby dolls were good for was burying when we played funeral. I tried to be patient till she got to the cowboy outfit. Finally, she hit bottom. She made me and my sister close our eyes and hold out our hands for our outfits.

I peeked just a little and was furious!! This was a horrible joke! We were both holding fancy Easter dresses, big ridiculous straw hats with flowers, and shiny white shoes. I hated them! Where were my cowboy boots and guns? My mother gave me a dirty look before I could tell Grandma what I really thought. I hated dresses, but Mother made us put on our Easter getups and pose next to the fence for a picture. It was hot. The clothes were scratchy. We looked stupid. My prissy big sister kept dancing around like a ballerina while the mean kids from next door laughed at us across the fence. I’d be dealing with them later. Boy was I disgusted.

Mother was as slow as Grandma. While I stood there like a dope waiting for her to take that darn picture, Champ came up behind me expecting a treat. We both got a big surprise. I felt a big scrunchy chomp on my head. The strap on my hat stretched tight, snapped, and that horrible hat with the flowers was gone. I flipped around, and Champ was eating my Easter hat. He still had straw and flowers sticking out of his mouth, but I could see he didn’t think too much of it either. He was the best horse ever. I never had to wear that hat again. He did love me!

Advice for the Easter Season: No Baby Chicks!

Rubberneck 1Rubberneck 2repost for Easter:  Illustrations by Kathleen Swain

No little kid should ever be allowed a small, defenseless duck, chick, or bunny for a pet.  One of those four hundred pound tortoises would be a far better choice.  It could protect itself and the kid couldn’t pick it up.  Porcupines or crocodiles should be fine, too.  They could probably hold their own against a four year old.  Case in point, when I was four, Continue reading