Family traditions are one of the joys of child-rearing. I was inspired by one of the books I recalled from childhood--The Golden Egg Book-- to begin an annual project with our youngsters.
It began in 1984, when our older child, daughter Laura, was three years old. Needless to say, early work was...pretty rudimentary! Nathaniel, younger by 2 years and 8 months, began participating when he was nearly three. Our tradition of decorating eggshells continued for ten years--until 1994, when the youngsters were older and busier.
Every year I began in January or February, 'blowing out' each egg I used. (I'm sure you know how it's done: tap an opening at each end of the egg, blow forcefully but carefully in one end to expel the yolk and the white into a bowl. Rinse and drain; allow to dry.) Because there were inevitable casualties and other participants (the kids' friends began to look forward to decorating eggs as well, taking them home afterward) I usually accumulated roughly three dozen eggshells. We used colored markers, crayons, water-colors, tempera paints, acrylic paints, pencils. Eventually I developed a method of threading a thin wire through the egg and then using buttons, beads, sequins, etc., to hold the egg in place on the wire; one end of the wire was looped to allow me to hang the eggs. I set a branching sapling into plaster and decorated the base with seashells we brought home from trips to faraway beaches. Eventually we had saved about 100 eggs.
Even after we were no longer creating new eggs, it was an annual rite to bring out the Egg Tree and hang the eggs.
The eggs reflect the growing skills, imagination, and sense of humor that were expressed in each child. Here are some of the eggs 'up close and personal.'
Dribbling water colors always works! 1985
Nathaniel's faithful Teddy bear, Winnie, was his first topical egg. 1987
Laura's tree and flowers.
Below, the birds who visited our feeders and garden.
Not every egg was a masterpiece, but I saved them anyway.
Nathaniel often just wanted to pile on the colors.
And then he would come up with a quirky mustachio'd face, add a button beret, and Voila! A Frenchman
Natty's spotted egg spells out a message. (He himself arrived 2 weeks past his due date....Hmmm)
Below: Nathaniel's watermelon!
I usually painted one egg each year; this one featured cavorting rabbits and carrots.
Below, a broken egg rescue operation!
And Laura followed suit by creating a scene from her 'community aquarium,' featuring her swordtail fish and plants.
In a triumph of sentiment over reason, I packed and transported the eggs when we moved to Arkansas in 2001. Now, with both children in their Thirties and living far away, I know that the Easter Egg Tree is not going to be brought out in our house each year. The best way to preserve precious mementos, sometimes, is to give them away: the Egg Tree is in its new home at the Children's Area of the Faulkner County Library here in Conway.
Many happy memories will always be mine.