My first daughter is a spring baby, so the year she turned one, my husband and I decided to show her the fine art of egg dyeing. I think we both had fantasies of showing her the marvel of dipping eggs into dye, letting them sit and pulling them out all brightly colored.
We imagined the expression of wonder on her face as she saw for the first time the beautiful colors she could turn the eggs all by herself. Oh! And the delight of her grandparents receiving their granddaughter’s first colored eggs.
I remember very clearly my daughter standing up on the kitchen chair, my husband leaning into her so she wouldn’t fall. I dipped the first egg, let it sit for a minute and pulled it out. She did look at me in wonder – she wondered what the big deal was.
She picked up an egg and threw it into a cup, thoroughly cracking it in the process. Then she proceeded to grab and dump eggs into the dye cups until all the cups were filled. She continued her process by throwing eggs on top of eggs, cracking each one in succession and double cracking the ones that were already in the cups.
You would think my husband and I would have stopped her long before it got to that point, but this all happened in less then 30 seconds. Then she jumped off the chair and was done. My husband and I were stunned. We fished the crippled eggs out of the dye trying to salvage a few to give the grandparents.
Fast forward seventeen years. My oldest daughter is now 18 and my youngest daughter is 15. In spite of the experience of my daughter’s first year, we have colored eggs every year since. Knowing my daughters were pretty busy with homework and making costumes for the anime convention that’s always held on Easter weekend, I asked them several times if they wanted to color eggs this year. They said to me, and I quote: “We have to.”
I boiled eggs the night before and looked up a new method of coloring eggs using Cool
Whip; it gives them a marbled look. The next evening, I asked my daughters if they were ready to color eggs – they told me they didn’t have time.
Here I had four dozen eggs all ready to go with no one to color them. What could I do? We eat boiled eggs, but four dozen is somewhat extreme. So I told my husband he would be helping me as I couldn’t just put white, boiled eggs in grandparents’ Easter baskets.
Disenchanted and disgruntled that I had to color eggs alone, I got the Cool Whip out of the freezer, put the little dye tablets in the cups, filled them with vinegar and water, got the food coloring out for the Cool Whip eggs and my husband and I sat down and got started.
I gave one last yell to my kids, “We’re coloring eggs if anyone wants to join us.” Suddenly, kids began to appear, “What’s with the Cool Whip? Oh, that sounds like fun. How many eggs are there? Hand me the pink food coloring.”
My mood improved after my kids joined us; I don’t really color eggs as much for me as for them, after all (at least that’s what I tell everyone). The Cool Whip eggs turned out to be a hit because it’s about slopping a blob of Cool Whip on a plate, adding food coloring and glopping eggs around in the whole mess. It was great for the kids’ busy schedules because it took a fraction of the time it takes when using the traditional method, plus they had a lot of fun on their little egg coloring break; who doesn’t love a mess?
I needn’t have worried my kids had outgrown our long-standing tradition: Color eggs and they will come.
Gretchen Leigh is a stay-at-home mom who lives in Covington. She is living memories one egg at a time. You can also read more of her writing and her daily blog on her website livingwithgleigh.com or on Facebook at “Living with Gleigh.” Her column is available every week at maplevalleyreporter.com under the Lifestyles section.