Growing up in the strict Midwestern culture, life was ruled by aphorisms and admonishments, among them: It’s not a misfortune to be bored. It’s a sin! The idea was to stay productively busy, and if you were not, one parent or the other would say, “If you can’t figure out something to do, I’ll tell you what to do.” That threw any young psyche into high gear.
So, like the rest of us, you’re looking for the silver lining during the coronavirus pandemic. You’re thinking it spawns a long overdue reduction in your social calendar, more time with the family, more time together. All true, all healthy, but dare you confess to being housebound and bored, I’m telling you what to do. Make an Easter or a Spring Equinox Tree.
Call it what you like, but get busy.
Our family Easter Tree started over 35 years ago. It is as seasonally important to us as any tree festooned with tinsel and topped with an angel. My mother-in-law, an incredibly industrious and creative Ohio hausfrau, got it going by sending us half a dozen eggs that she had blown and hand decorated.
Blown? Yes, she’d emptied the shells of their contents. It’s easy. Simply use a needle to puncture the big end of the egg with a hole about the size of three pinheads. Make a hole in the small end about the size of two pin heads. Hold the egg over a soup bowl and blow into the large hole. The contents will ooze out of the small hole, to be saved for scrambling later. You may want to dye the raw eggs first; you may not. Once empty, set the shells aside for a day to allow them to dry out. Then decorate them with paint, glued on ribbons, appliqué, glitter or stickers. Glue a loop of cord at the large end and you’ve got an egg ornament ready for hanging.
Outside in your garden or in a park is a branch, wind downed or waiting to be snipped.
Take that branch and put it in a vase, kept upright. Secure with gravel or styrofoam in the container. Hang the eggs on this branch, left natural or spray painted. The current branch at our house is the limb of a pollarded Asian pear tree that needed to come off about five years ago. Out of use, it is stored in the basement under a plastic garbage bag. The eggs are wrapped and go into zip-lock plastic bags and spend the off season in the Easter baskets.
As the years passed and the Easters hopped on (pun intended), we traveled and began noticing that almost every culture we visited had some kind of ornamental eggs. The Scandinavian countries, Russia and Eastern Europe were the biggest sources, most often wooden eggs in assorted colors decorated with paint or carving. Greece gets some credit for interesting eggs, Italy for blown glass delights. We began collecting. Today our tree sags with memories. The tree goes up on Ash Wednesday and comes down about a month after Easter. It never fails to delight visitors who stand before it asking about the origins of the eggs they find most appealing. No egg is without a story.
So add the making of an Easter Tree, the establishing of a family tradition, to your list of pandemic survival strategies. Celebrate and memorialize spring. Boredom is a sin.