I stood behind a man at Walgreens buying two dozen eggs today. His children bounced up and down beside him. When, Dad, they asked. When do we get to dye our eggs?
I remember my mother trying to clean the house for Easter company, prepare the large ham for baking, all the while fending off our constant refrain: When are we going to dye the eggs?
She would send us out to play, to clean our rooms, to take a nap. Finally a dozen and a half eggs would be boiled. Two for each of us to dye, two for her to dye for herself and my father, and a few extras just in case.
Old chipped mugs and cups would be set on newspaper lining the picnic table in the backyard. McCormack’s colorful hatted liquid food colorings would be dropped in the vinegar scented boiling water: Robin’s egg blue, purple, orange, yellow, green, scarlet, as we discussed among ourselves which colors we would choose this Easter.
One sibling would drop her egg in all the colors. In the end the poor egg resembled the color of weak coffee. We were fascinated and horrified at her choice to ruin one of her precious eggs.
We fought over colors and bickered over how much time each person took to achieve the perfect shade of orange. Our fingers turned various shades and someone always cracked an egg as they dropped it off the spoon into the cup.
When we had finished and our masterpieces were ready, we trooped to the dining room where seven baskets sat waiting for our artistic treasures. The eggs soon nestled in the green cellophane grass next to a hollow chocolate bunny or lamb, jelly beans and yellow marshmallow peeps.
As I watched the dad leave with a child in each hand, I thought of my own three, all grown now, wondering if their own memories of dyeing eggs was similar to mine.
Do they miss asking mom: When do we get to dye our eggs?