Here comes Peter Cottontail

For as long as I can remember, Grandma has hidden a particular brand of candy eggs at her house on Easter for the grandkids to find. The consensus among all the grandchildren is that those eggs are disgusting. Finding them wasn’t about the candy. It was all about the glory. So much glory that I can’t remember who won on any particular year (partly because we’d get an adult to rehide the eggs after we found them all).

Yesterday there was a debate about when, exactly, it was that Joseph and I (and our older cousin) stopped egg hunting. Mike claimed that he was still participating in Easter Egg hunts when he was 15, and Joseph and I think we were both also teenagers before we were banished from the backyard. Grandma wasn’t so sure, and didn’t hide any eggs yesterday, thinking that the two youngest grandchildren (who are, I believe, 8 and 10) wouldn’t want to find eggs anymore. When they showed up with their Easter baskets, she realized that she was a little bit mistaken, so she sent me and Mike out to hide them. This marks the first year that I can remember Grandma not hiding them herself. I took the responsibility very seriously, hiding them in all the traditional places: on a particular grate on the back of the house, on windowsills, throwing some out into the grass. Joseph came out and hid a few in more diabolical places, but I was going pretty easy on them. (Oddly enough, the ones I thought were easiest were some of the last ones to be found. I think that there’s a bit of a generation gap, because those were the places I would have looked first.) We were soon joined by some of the other cousins in attendance who were considered too old to participate, and after the two youngest found all the eggs, the two of them insisted upon hiding them for the seven of us. We went back and forth a few times with the hiding and the hunting before Mike and Joseph and I needed to leave so Mike could work on a couple of papers.

When I was younger, Joseph, my older cousin, and I were an inseparable triad (that is, after we let Joseph hang out with us). Because of that, I didn’t spend a lot of time with my younger cousins at holidays. Now, though, that my older cousin lives in Brooklyn, I tend to spend holiday meals with the ones who are left. In recent years, I have learned how much we hurt their feelings by excluding them, and they have cautiously let me into their lives. I guess you could say that I’m the outsider now. Part of it is the age gap – when the very youngest was born, I was already in college. Part of it is the spacing that naturally put us in groups of different ages. Other than the very youngest, the ones who live around here are all in college or high school, so there’s definitely space between us. I’ve been working on it, though, trying to ask good questions and to let them know that I’m not just spending time with them by default. One of the constant themes of my childhood was wanting to be included. I look back and see how desperately I was afraid of exclusion, to the point that I would exclude others if I thought it would help my position. I think that my relationships with my younger cousins suffered a bit because of that. It’s nice to think that some really disgusting Easter Eggs, four Easter baskets, and a warm Sunday afternoon could help that situation heal just a little bit.

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