Our Tradition Transitioned!
We’re a family that loves tradition. We read A Christmas Carol every Christmas Eve, just before unwrapping our new pj’s. We eat with the same friends, (the kind that are really family), at the same restaurant every Halloween. We cook exactly the same meal each Thanksgiving. My kids all received their first pocket knives for their eleventh birthdays. My daughter’s ears were pierced on her seventh birthday. And, all my kids came home from the hospital in one of two (boy or girl) outfits made by their great-great-grandmothers. All because it’s tradition!
The kids tend to take this a little far, in my opinion. They have this theory that anything we’ve done twice is tradition and must be carried on ad infinitum. For example, a few years ago I bought some light-up balloons for one of the boys’ birthday parties. A few months later, I found them in pink and used them for Grace’s party. According to the kids, those balloons are now a legitimate birthday tradition! So much so, that on my recent birthday, they made Liam stop and pick up a package. They were determined that I shouldn’t be “left out of the tradition”.
However, some traditions don’t weather the passing years well. I mean, we’ll still be kicking off the Christmas Season with our favorite Bing Crosby song and eating my mother-in-law’s chocolate pie on Thanksgiving until we’re old and wrinkly, but other traditions lose their oomph. As children transition from little kid to big kid, big kid to teen, and teen to adult, certain traditions must evolve or simply fade away. After all, most teens are much too cool to do ‘kid stuff’. (Although, I think they secretly want to!)
When our older boys began to outgrow certain things, they shifted roles and became helpers to our younger kids. However, we’ve reached the point, where all the kids are teens or adults. We don’t have any little kids to borrow for fun and games. So, we could pause these traditions until there are little ones running around or we can transform them into something our ‘big kids’ enjoy!
When the kids were small, hunting Easter eggs was their favorite part of celebrating. I have charming memories of chubby dimpled knees in little smocked rompers, brightly colored baskets, and little ones who poured eggs out of the basket each time they bent to pick up a new treasure. I loved watching my older boys guide the younger ones toward eggs, all the while trying to ensure the little one thought they found it themselves. After three boys, my heart thrilled to watch Grace’s long curling hair and brightly colored Easter dress tossed about on spring breezes.
In my heart, they’re still my babies. However, a few years ago, I realized that my days of Easter bonnets and baskets were drawing to a close. That year also happened to be a huge transition year for us. We lived in an RV for over a year, while we remodeled and sold our home, then shopped for and bought our farm.
A family Easter egg hunt in an RV campground has a few innate challenges. Well, let’s be honest. Living in an RV with five people, two giant dogs, and a seriously bossy cat has a lot of innate challenges. To make it work, you have to REALLY like the people with whom you live. Holidays were weird for us that year. So, on a whim, I decided to change our annual Easter egg hunt. On my drive in from work, I devised a plan. When I arrived home, I explained the plan to Liam and took about thirty minutes to create a few clues. Then
we, ahem, the Easter Bunny hid the eggs. We offered no explanation; we simply sprung the new plan on the kids.
One plastic egg with a message inside was hidden in a clearly defined area. It was the only egg hidden there, and it was very hard to find. I told the kids there was only one egg to find, and they couldn’t look anywhere else until they found it. When they found it, they discovered the clue inside. I think it went something like this:
Ancient source of healthy life
Flows within the serpent’s form
If flow ebbs, then great is strife
For need is strong when one is warm
The kids were eleven, twelve, and almost eighteen. They immediately began to work as a team (an Easter miracle in itself). After a little discussion, they, of course, found the next egg and clue hidden in the garden hose’s serpent-like coils. That clue sent them to the next egg/clue and so on until they were at last lead to a secret cache of Easter goodies.
An added bonus to this cache system is the ability to color-code the eggs. All they had to do was to each take their favorite color. All the sweets were evenly divided, and the boys were guaranteed not to find lip gloss in their baskets!
The next Easter, the kids were adamant that we do that “cool riddle thing” again for our hunt. I was on the injured list that Easter, so I dictated the clues and Liam hid the eggs. I sat in a chair on the porch and watched my excited and occasionally befuddled offspring race around the farmyard.
This year, I can participate fully in setting up the hunt! I’ve already written my riddles and they’re ready to go. I try to make them difficult enough to provide a challenge, but not frustrating. I’m also not above giving a discrete hint when it’s called for. I have really nerdy children, so this year I added a nerdy theme. (Yes, I know they get it from their parents.) All of this year’s clues are related to literature. (I honestly didn’t plan to do that! The first two clues were accidentally literary, then it became a sort of challenge.) A couple of this year’s clues should really stump the kids, and I’m pretty chuffed about that!
My kids are now fourteen, fifteen, and twenty. So, I can make the riddles pretty hard. However, this game is certainly adaptable for kids five or six and up. A parent or sibling might need to help with the reading, but what kid doesn’t enjoy a treasure hunt? For my teen/adult kids, I usually do between six and eight clues depending on how hard they are. A small child might need less to stay focused or more to burn off energy. All in all, I would say, no less than five and no more than ten. Remember, the first egg will need to be hidden and found to start the hunt.
One other important thing to bear in mind is to hide each clue a step behind what it describes. For example, my clue about the water hose had to be hidden the step before the hose. The clue hidden in the hose was for the place I wanted them to go after the water hose. I know that sounds simple, and it is. However, I’ve had friends hide the clue in the place it describes. Then, they have to pause the hunt, call the Easter Bunny, be sure the hunt is still in warranty, get a service ticket, and wait for the Bunny to come do a little customer service. It’s easier to write a list of where each egg goes and just follow the list.
I write my clues as rhyming verses (see nerdy parent comment above), but that’s simply because I’m a geek and I enjoy it. The clues can be simple and easy to write.
Little kid: What belongs in a bowl with milk? –Pop the egg in a cereal box.
Big kid: When winter is cold, I keep your hands warm.–Put the egg in the pocket of a coat or a glove.
Pre-teen: No need to pay a taxi’s fare. I’m hiding where there’s air to spare.–Sorry, that one rhymed a bit. I think it’s become habit.)–Put the egg on top of the spare tire in your trunk.
Teen: Snails, they travel far and wide. Some tell me that they fly! If they fly, then they must land, so I’ll hide where they leap from hand to stand.–(I feel like the Grinch! “Help me! I’m speaking in rhyme!”)–Put the egg in the mailbox. After all, that’s where snail-mail lands. (Seriously, rhyming isn’t required. This clue could read: Look where flying snails land.)
Here are some examples of this year’s clues at our home:
Ophelia sang her mournful rant
While wandering in a vapid trance:
No other herb or helpful plant,
But this, is for REMEMBERANCE.
–Obviously, Hamlet. The egg will be in my rosemary.
No hiding place is better,
Yet look with all your might
For like the purloined letter
I’ll hide within your sight.
–from Sherlock Holmes. The egg will be either in the coop or in a carton in the fridge, depending on the weather.
In scarlett, a warrior most fierce
Seized a weapon, her foe to pierce
She held it high and stabbed at the sky
Though terror rained down, she was dry.
–The Amelia Peabody Mysteries. I know few people will know these books, but this clue makes me smile. The heroine is a lady in a red dress who goes about poking the bad guys with her parasol. We adore these books, and each identify with a certain character. The egg will be stashed in an umbrella.
Since we’ve had the scavenger hunt more than twice, it’s by definition a family tradition. Therefore, I’ll be writing clues and hiding caches until someday I get to watch the dimpled knees of my grand-kids as they spill eggs with each new treasure. However, knowing my kids, they’ll probably expect a grown-up version after their own kids have succumbed to the traditional Easter Sugar Coma! (Fake frustrated mom sigh…), if I have to, I have to. Hey, it’s a great excuse to write badly rhyming riddles and to try to stump my kids! After all, that’s my tradition!
If it sounds fun for your family, I hope you’ll give the Easter Egg Scavenger Hunt a try! We really enjoy it, and it usually kicks off a few days of, “Mama, listen to my riddle!”. I love that, because, hearing their riddles lets me peek into their warped little teenage brains! Well, that and I usually manage to steal a bit of the Easter candy. Hmmm…Maybe there should be some penuche fudge in the eggs this year! Yum!!
What are some traditions in your family? Have you changed or adapted traditions to help them grow with your family? Please, share your ideas! I love to read your comments!
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Easter with Big Kids: Scavenging for Fun was featured on the Simple Homestead Blog and Homestead Blog Hops! They have amazing collections of articles at both hops! I’m proud for Simply Living the Dream to be among such amazing companions!