(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on April 9, 2009. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)
Dear Aunt Gladys,
Many years ago you did something wonderful for a child, the memory of which has lasted a lifetime. I don't know exactly how old I was at the time, but I was in elementary school, I'm sure. It was Easter, and you and Uncle Elvin had invited all the cousins and their families for an Easter egg hunt at your house. What a crowd of us there was-uncles, aunts, grandparents, brothers and sisters. It was a grand occasion, and everyone was excited and thrilled to be there.
I remember getting out of the car with other members of my family. We took our Easter eggs into the house and added them to the eggs that the cousins had brought. Then we dashed outside to play until the eggs could be hidden. We were cautioned to stay in the front yard, because the eggs were to be hidden in the backyard, and we were not to peek.
Finally the long-awaited call came. I remember all the cousins seeing who could get to the backyard first. I remember racing around the corner, where we all had to wait for instructions. I don't recall the instructions; I was too spellbound by the way you had marked the territory where the eggs were hidden, and by the beautiful irises and other flowers that decorated the space.
The site of the egg hunt was not exactly a yard, but a large expanse of open space, as I recollect, complete with tall pine trees, pasture grasses, and naturalized bulbs and wildflowers. Around some of the trees you had tied yellow ribbons to mark the boundary where the eggs had been hidden. Not just any ribbons-but wide, yellow ribbons, and they were tied up in bows. Pretty, generous, bright yellow bows they were, with streamers that fluttered in the wind.
I don't remember how many eggs I found. Surely not too many, because I was too busy admiring the flowers and the yellow bows. I remember that one of my aunts demanded that her children take home as many eggs as they brought. I was distressed because I had to give some of mine to my cousin. I didn't mind too much, though, because my family had gathered our eggs from the laying hens, and we had more at home. I was acutely aware that some of the other cousins had real Easter baskets. My brothers and sisters brought our eggs in brown paper sacks, and that is the only kind of Easter baskets we ever had.
That is, until I told Amiable Spouse the story. Thinking that nobody should go through life without an Easter basket, he bought me one that year. Not one for an adult, understand, but one for a child-complete with a stuffed bunny, green cellophane grass, and candy all tied up in transparent paper and tied with a pretty bow. It was exactly the Easter basket the child in me had always wanted. To this day I keep the bunny rabbit that came in the basket in top of my closet where I can see it every time I enter. It is the Easter bunny, and the Easter basket, of my lifetime; my one-and-only. And it's enough. Thanks, sweetheart.
And thanks, Aunt Gladys, for the Easter egg hunt with the yellow bows. They were lavish and beautiful. Not necessary. Extra. Something just for pleasure. Such extravagance! Such elegance! The yellow bows left an indelible mark in the mind of a child and the assurance that not everything in life had to be so practical, or rough and hard. In the world there was room for beauty, just for beauty's sake.
We couldn't eat the bows, or wear them. They had no other purpose than to make our egg hunt beautiful. They were just for adornment--and they did that admirably, just as you adorned my life with your example--and just as your pretty yellow bows adorned that very special Easter. Thanks.