The Easter Bunny's Tale

I like Easter. It is one of the few holidays that have not changed much since I was a kid.

There is no machine for coloring eggs; you still have to boil them until hard and then carefully dip each one into cups of colored water.

You can still get chocolate bunnies, although they seem smaller than I remember, and baskets of other goodies.

So much of the fun has been taken from other holidays. I loved to put on my costume and go trick-or-treating on Halloween. Kids don't do that any more. It ain't safe.

At school, for Valentine's Day, we would make large envelopes and hang them on the walls around the classroom. Then we would bring a valentine for every kid in the class and put one in each envelope. There were no rules about the valentines we brought to school. If there was someone you liked, you could give them a special valentine. Although some of the kids would get special valentines, I never did. Of course, I never gave one, either.

Mom would buy a large sack of Valentines. Then my sister and I would sit at the table and pick out a valentine for each kid in our class.

I can still hear my sister, Francis, complaining to my mother than she did not want to give one kid a valentine because she did not like him. She was afraid that if she gave him one, he would get the wrong idea.

Mom got mad when Francis wrote "don't" over the "Be my Valentine" on the card. Fran tended to take things seriously.

It's like the one Christmas when an admirer came to the door and gave her a gift. Inside the gaily-wrapped box was a large brooch, sort of like the one my grandmother used to wear.

Actually, it was quite ugly. Francis thought so, too. She pinned the brooch onto the dog's collar, which seemed to please Trixi, the dog, immensely. It was quite funny, until my mother told Francis that if she didn't want it, she had to return it.

Grudgingly, Fran took the brooch and began walking to the boy's house, all the while thinking of clever, witty things she wanted to say. She rang the bell, and the boy answered.

"My mom won't let me keep this," she said.

Walking home, she was quite upset with herself because she had failed to say something cute or witty, but got over that by the time she got back home.

For years, our family would follow the same routine at Easter. We would get out of bed, examine the baskets the Easter Bunny has left for us, then hunt through the house for the eggs he had hidden.

The deviousness displayed in hiding the eggs suggests the Easter Bunny is a girl bunny. A boy bunny would have left beer cans and egg shells scattered through the house.

I liked Easter egg hunts. One year, the city sponsored a big hunt at the local park. We were told that there were several "specially marked" eggs that could be redeemed for prizes, the first prize being a live bunny.

I was excited! I wanted that bunny!

There were at least 2,000 kids lined up for the hunt. At the starting signal, we ran into the park.

I was in front of the pack, and spotting one egg, reached down and grabbed it and noticed it had an "X" in white tape.

Realizing it was one of the special eggs. I ran back to the truck, only to find that there was already a line of kids with "specially marked" eggs. I had to settle for a plain old Easter basket with a chocolate bunny in it.

After breakfast, we would pile into the car for our annual Easter picnic at Little Mountain. It wasn't really a mountain. It was a group of small hills right on the edge of the salt flats of the Great Salt Lake.

I never understood that annual pilgrimage to Little Mountain. It was remote, barren, cold, windy and totally uninteresting. It was more like survival training than a picnic, but it was something my dad liked to do, and mom would go along with it.

We always parked in the same spot. It was not far from the railroad tracks that led off across the lake.

Larry, my older brother, would usually build a campfire, while I would explore the various lava outcroppings.

Then, after eating our lunch of sandwiches and potato salad, Francis and I would decide to hike out to Seagull Island, a small hill about a mile away. There, the seagulls would build nests, and at that time of year, there would be eggs and hatchlings.

After our trek across the lake, Mom would call us all together, and we could gather around the fire and roast marshmallows. Then cold, tired, sticky and dirty, would would climb back into the car for the ride home.

It wasn't until I got older that I realized the best part of Easter was not the candy and chocolate bunnies: It was the beer and hard-boiled eggs.