Easter and Christmas were big holidays in my family growing up, not because Baby Jesus was front and center in our lives, but because both celebrations held massive decorating opportunity, and Mom was all about DIY and crafting. She was (and still is) an artsy woman who loved anything that could be recreated in miniature.
Several weeks before Ham Sunday, Mom would lay out the newspaper and set up multiple color stations; little bowls of vinegar and food dye that, when mixed properly, created warm hues and soft pastels. Without intervention from the Master, the result for us kids was mostly Crayola’s Burnt Sienna.
Before dying, she’d split the eggs into two groups; one for hard boiling, the other for blowing. Group #1 was kid-friendly – dip, dunk, and swirl. Group #2 was reserved for the artist. With a clean pin-prick at each end, Mom would masterfully blow the insides out… the whites first with relative ease, and then, like a mother giving birth, the thick yellow yolk would squeeeeze through the tiny pinhole and dribble into the bowl; a dye-defying feat that Mom managed with ease. Perforation perfection.
Next, it was my turn. Holding gently between thumbs and forefingers, and heeding Mom’s precise instruction, I’d give a “slow even blow.” With puffed cheeks, veined forehead, and popped eyeballs, the egg would burst and tears would tumble. Many a good egg was lost at the decorating table.
Every once in a while, I’d score a modified victory by chipping away at a hole big enough for the insides to just plop into the bowl. Somewhere along the line, Mom started prepping the blow-holes with clear nail polish – a game changer.
Full of self-pride for eliminating the insides and then dunking that one little sucker into a bowl of Burnt Sienna, I could sit back, eat the hard-boiled eggs, and watch the Master at work. Going far beyond basic dying, Mom would carefully carve out a 1.5 x 2 portal in the front of each barren egg (a feat never attempted by myself).
She could then engage her full-on crafting expertise. Mom’s supplies included cotton balls, teeny plastic lambs, trees, Easter baskets and bunnies…. fingernail scissors, tweezers, clear nail polish, Saran wrap, zigzag hem tape, velvet ribbon, tiny pearls (for the bases), and Elmer’s glue.
Mom’s laser focus, sharp eyes and steady hands would yield exquisite results; expertly created mini-masterpieces worthy of Faberge… teeny Norman Rockwell scenes showing happy lambs and bunnies hunting for eggs under billowing fields of cotton and shady trees… sweet little vignettes worthy of sentimental veneration.
I loved those eggs and looked forward to seeing them each year. I could imagine myself living among the lambs and bunnies in the soft and gentle world created by Mom … everything safe and protected. More importantly, I knew Mom’s eggs were a precursor for the candy-toting Easter Bunny and that within a few short days, I’d be eating chocolate and jelly beans, and enjoying a family dinner at the dining room table, eating ham and scalloped potatoes; a tradition that continues in my own home today.
Next Sunday is Easter. At 93, and with feeble hands, Mom’s days of dunking and dying eggs are long gone, but her now-vintage, crafty creations still deserve a place at the dinner table. Prominently displayed, her wee works of art are sure to stir the kind of fond memories that only exceptional eggs can do. That, plus a really tasty feast of familiar family fare.
Emily Gaffney is a Baby-Booming, Empty Nester who’s living life-on-hold, while caring for her 93 year old mother (Right.Next.Door.) She writes, with humor, about the emotional baggage that often accompanies caretaking an aging parent. By day, Emily works as a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. Find Emily (and Mom) at her website 50 Shades of Aging, on Facebook, and at Marbleheadhomes.net.