I have always thought you can tell a lot about a person’s character through their approach to Easter eggs.
It is my considered view that, in broad terms, society can be divided into two groups – those who eat their Easter eggs, and those who keep their Easter eggs. It might not be a surprise to discover that I fall definitively into the former category.
Let’s go back to the beginning. Aside from the religious significance of Easter, for a young boy growing up in Northern Ireland in the 1970s or 80s, this holiday was pretty much all about the chocolate.
I am aware that there are other egg-themed activities that apparently exist – some people paint eggs, some families roll eggs, some individuals hide eggs and then encourage children to find them.
To be completely clear, I did none of these things, nor did I ever meet another child of my generation who did. Our Easter tradition, simple and direct as it was, consisted of being given lots of foil-wrapped chocolate eggs encased in colourful cardboard boxes, and then eating them (the eggs, not the boxes).
The Easter Bunny was not, to the best of my knowledge, a popular concept in north Antrim either. There was no Santa-esque pretence of rewarding children who were good or obedient with a present from the folkloric rabbit. Your family bought you Easter eggs. That was how it worked.
There was also a raffle in primary school at Easter time. Eggs of various sizes were offered as prizes. The top prize was always a monster-size chocolate egg resting in a basket and surrounded with straw. This scale and style of confectionary, to someone from my sheltered background, seemed impossibly exotic.
The problem was that I never won anything. It might not be an exaggeration to state that much of my pessimistic outlook on life and the world around me was shaped by my consistent lack of success in the Easter raffle. Year after year I got my hopes up. There were multiple prizes and only so many boys in the school. I had usually bought a few tickets. Surely, my name would eventually be drawn. It never happened.
In P7 I decided that I was going to be proactive about changing my luck. I spent all of my pocket money over several weeks on tickets. I scraped together every penny that I could find to ensure that there were more tickets in the hat with my name on them than any other boy in the school. I might not win the monster egg, but I was determined that I was going to win something.
The boys gathered, chattering excitedly, in the school dining hall for the raffle. A dizzying selection of chocolate eggs of varying weight and circumference were displayed proudly on a table on the little stage. The draw was made. I won a Cadbury’s Creme Egg.
Let’s move on from those obvious mental scars and consider the ritual of waking up on Easter Sunday. The egg from my parents would be ripped open and devoured well before 9am. We would then visit relatives where a haul of perhaps another half dozen eggs would be gathered. By the end of Easter Sunday more than half of these would be gone. After that, there was no expectation or possibility that any chocolate eggs would be left beyond Easter Monday.
But this was not the way it was for all children. I had some friends who liked to keep their Easter eggs to ‘make them last’. This practice consisted of opening the confectionary and breaking off a small square. Several hours later they might return for another meagre portion. Considering it was usual for a child to receive multiple eggs, this approach could lead to the treats being stretched out over several weeks.
To be clear, I am not advocating my approach as superior to the other. My habit was clearly not sensible and can be characterised as a series of incidents where I would make myself sick on chocolate, wait until the effects had worn off, and then go and make myself sick all over again.
It was simply that I could not understand the temperament, character, personality or restraint of those who had access to chocolate but were able to follow the path of temperance. These people, while of the same species as me, were clearly driven by different forces.
Such was my desperation for chocolate that once I had finished my eggs, I would very quickly move on to those of people around me given the chance. I remember visiting a cousin who proudly liked to display her undisturbed Easter eggs in their boxes. While she was out of the room, I carefully opened the packaging of one egg, removed a substantial chunk and then replaced the foil and the box so that my theft would not be immediately discovered.
Now, as a parent, my supposed role is that of buying rather than eating the Easter eggs. The problem is that my infatuation with sugar has barely dimmed over the years.
Moreover, my son falls firmly into the category of liking to make his eggs last. He certainly enjoys chocolate, but he will consume a sensible amount and is prepared to wait until he asks for more. In fact, he often seems to take as much pleasure from looking at his collection of eggs in their grand boxes as he does from eating them.
Which brings me at last to the point (yes, there is one). As I write these words there are, not six feet away from me, six Easter eggs on the kitchen counter. They all belong to my son.
In the scale of parental sins, I am not sure where eating your child’s Easter eggs ranks, but it must be pretty high. I am doing everything that I can to resist, but the chocolate is calling for me. Surely he won’t mind if I just have a little nibble…..
3 thoughts on “The Easter egg conundrum”
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I’m with you – eat at once!