As today is Good Friday, I thought it would be good to remember some past Easters.
When Russell was very young we always organised an Easter Egg Hunt around the house and garden. This was a series of clues leading to his Easter egg. Before he could read the clues were all pictures, but as he got older the pictures were replaced by words and then by more cryptic clues to make the hunt more difficult. I think I enjoyed setting the trail as much as he did solving it. There was usually a mini egg with each clue as well, just to keep him going when the clues got harder.
Many of you will know that Russell was not a great fan of chocolate; we always bought him white chocolate eggs for a reason. When he was about four years old Russell’s grandparents came to stay for Easter, bringing with them a (rather too) large consignment of chocolate. Russell’s egg was jam-packed full of small solid chocolate eggs, and the grandparents sensibly said “Don’t eat it all at once”! Of course, this sensible suggestion had the opposite effect and Russell promptly scoffed the lot. We prepared ourselves for a second viewing of the eggs, but no, they didn’t make him sick, they completely changed his mood. Within a couple of hours he had changed from a pleasant placid toddler into a raging inferno of temper tantrums. This was followed by red blotches all over his face and upper body. So, next stop – an out-of-hours doctors appointment. It was here that we were told that he had food sensitivity to chocolate, and quite possibly several other foods as well, including all those artificial colours that seemed to be in everything in the 1980’s. We were also told, “Don’t worry, he’ll grow out of it.” He did in the end, but not for about 10 years.
This sensitivity to food meant that every time I went shopping I had to read the ingredients list on all the packets to make sure we were not feeding him anything that would cause a repeat performance. This effectively doubled the time spent in supermarkets, and we had to tell the parents of all his friends what he could and couldn’t have every time he was invited out to tea. So, this is why he always had white chocolate eggs.
Another tradition was the Easter Hat competition at Little Kingshill School. One year, when he was about eight, Russell decided to make a hat with a chicken coming out of an egg! He told me that he knew how to do this as there had been instructions on Blue Peter (for anyone who wants to know, you cover a balloon with paper mache, and when it has dried, just pop the balloon). And it worked! He made a very nice egg, which he painted and then cut in half (well, I actually cut the egg as this involved a Stanley knife – not a good idea for an eight-year-old). The chicken was made from more paper mache and then all that was left was to fit it all together. As you can see from the photos, he was very proud of his hat!
Fast-forward to Easter 2012, and Russell was on holiday of a lifetime with friends in USA. As always, he enjoyed himself immensely even though there appeared to be no Easter eggs. When he returned, he said that the best part of the holiday was the days they spent on Joyce and Fred’s farm in Missouri. Instead of treating this as a break from the travelling, and relaxing, Russell was up at 5am each morning to help build a pergola for his hosts; we are so proud of him for doing this, and pleased that he has left a small part of himself in the Missouri countryside. He always planned to return one day, perhaps we can do this for him.