Growing up, Easter produced some of my favorite memories.
Without fail on Easter, my grandfather pulled out his lasso and chased us grandchildren around the yard - peals of laughter and squeals ringing across the countryside. Charlie Sexton was a wonderful playmate. There wasn't much he wouldn't do to entertain us kids - from saddling up the horses, to running through the sprinkler, to loading the entire brood in the back of his truck for a trip to Bates store for ice cream sandwiches.
And he was such a good sport. One Easter, my cousins stuffed Easter eggs in the tailpipe of his truck. You can't imagine the racket as they were blown out like a cannon from the exhaust.
Unlike Christmas, which made her a nervous wreck, my grandmother loved Easter. Most of her guests stayed outside the house, lunch was a casual affair, and she did not have to spend a week cooking.
I can still see Mother, as all of DeSoto County referred to her, relaxed on her chaise lounge on the porch wearing pastel-colored, lightweight pants and her trademark white sleeveless shirt-- laughing with my aunts and enjoying the warming weather.
Mother was the chief egg-hider for the hunt, and she, along with my Aunt Karen spent a good 30 minutes hiding the dozens of eggs, and they didn't make it easy on us kids. With eggs stuffed in the clothes line pole, in tree knots six feet off the ground, and in rambles of grape and honeysuckle vines, we never found all the hidden eggs. I suppose stray dogs eventually retrieved them from their hidey-holes.
As the youngest grandchild, I never gathered the most eggs - not once, but I'm not complaining. It was more fun to watch the others fight it out to the bitter end. My cousins, Lesa and Dennis, were the master egg hunters, and the competition was fierce to say the least.
At the end of the day, my sisters and I drudged home, dirty and tired, with baskets full of eggs we never planned to eat. We were sticky from eating chocolate Easter bunnies and bright yellow Peeps.
My nine-month-old son, Dean, will enjoy his first Sexton family Easter this year at the home of my aunt and uncle, Jean and Carl Stanford, and just as I did, he will hunt eggs with his cousins. The only boy and youngest of the littlest Sextons, he will hunt eggs with five adorable and precocious little girls. I wish him the best of luck as he continues the Easter egg hunt tradition throughout his childhood. He will need it because Sexton women are without a doubt determined competitors.
So as you gather with your families this Easter, I hope you make many happy memories and enjoy your own traditions to be passed down through the generations. There is something magical about watching your own child find joy in the very things you loved as a child.