Easter has always been a special time for me. When my boys were young, we’d dress up and go to church and then go out to eat a big breakfast. They’d shovel the food in their mouths because they wanted to get home to go through their Easter baskets. I just adore puttin’ together Easter baskets. It’s in my blood. See, my Aunt Peggy and Uncle George owned the Toy Houses in Georgia, and Aunt Peggy made every Easter basket they sold. And they were the most beautiful baskets. Every toy and chocolate bunny was arranged just so. She taught me how to put a basket together like no other—the kind that children never forget.
Back when Michael and I were first dating, Easter was approaching and I remember asking him if his children ever had a beautiful Easter basket. He said, “Well, I always did the best I could—I put a bunch of candy in a basket.” I decided then and there that I was going make Michelle and Anthony, who were 16 and 19 at the time, real Easter baskets. As you know, impressing teenagers is no small task. I spent a bloody fortune. But it was so worth it when those kids lit up at the sight of their baskets overflowin’ with a lot more than plain ol’ chocolates and Peeps.
It gets difficult trying to outdo myself every year, but I think this Easter is going to top ‘em all. I’ve already got things picked out for my grandson Jack’s basket. There’s so much, I may need two baskets just to hold it all. And that’s not even the best part. See, I’m fixin’ to surprise him with some real live baby rabbits and chicks! Like all kids, he just loves animals. One of our favorite places to visit is Oatland Island Wildlife Center just down the road. They have all sorts of animals, like wolves, bison and even a cross-eyed possum. But Jack and I like the barnyard best of all. He pets the goats and bunnies and gets a kick out of me tellin’ the turkeys and pigs that I’m gonna cook ‘em up (funny thing is, they seem a little nervous when I come around). Course, Jack’s parents told me I’m not allowed to give him anything that has a heartbeat, but I’ll keep the bunnies and chicks here in my chicken coop. That way, Jack and I can enjoy those precious little things together.
And of course, you can’t have Easter without an egg hunt. We get dozens of eggs straight from our coop and dye them the most vibrant colors. Oh my gosh, we have egg salad for days. But when you grow tired of that, I have a number of wonderful Easter recipes for you. Try my Boiled Egg Casserole, for a new twist on all of those boiled eggs that you’ll be bound to have. I like to keep my side dishes easy and fresh for Easter, like a true taste of spring, so I usually whip up something like this wonderful Corn and Asparagus Salad. And, just like the egg salad, I aways have leftover ham, which is perfect for my Ham Salad that Michael and I use in sandwiches, or just as a little snack! For dessert, everyone loves my Grandma Hiers Carrot Cake. For me, it’s a reminder of my childhood and how special family gatherings are. It also makes for a pretty focal point on your Easter table!
While I adore all the cooking and egg huntin’ that goes along with Easter, I never lose sight of what Easter is really about. My favorite tradition is going to a sunrise service on Tybee Island. I think the beach is such a spiritual place anyway. You know, standing on the shore under that big sky, you see God in all his grandeur. It makes me feel very small, but my heart feels as big as it ever has.
I hope y’all have an Easter just like mine—one that is chock-full of beautiful baskets, precious bunnies and countless blessings.