One of the first things I realized when I realized that I lived in Alaska was this: I miss my kids.
In California, I had kiddos galore.
Now, don’t get ready to call the authorities, I haven’t left a clan of little Julia’s running about stealing people’s pancakes and causing a ruckus. No, they weren’t little Julia’s, they were the littles of my friends and family and together, we ran thick as thieves.
I remember some of the first gatherings I went to with this particular group of friends turned family, over ten years ago now, and everyone laughed as they turned to see me, surrounded solely by children, not an adult in sight.
I was in heaven.
Growing up as the younger sibling of a brother 8 years my senior, things could get a little quiet around our house. I spent a lot of time alone, which I liked, but there had always been a part of me that wanted a big, bustling family.
Well, I got it.
Every week, at least once, we all got together to celebrate anything from Taco Tuesday to Frittata Fridays (actually, we never did Frittata Fridays but that is a genius idea. Jotting it down now). The point is, we were together all the time. From regular days to holidays, we were a great big extended family.
Those kids taught me so much: how to speak “Giggle” (as some of my adult friends now call it), how to make something from nothing, the art of a snack and the ease of pure love.
Upon arriving in Alaska, I missed those interactions, those lessons, those laughs and I spent my first Summer missing them more as I realized I was staying. Holidays were the hardest. Our first Easter here, I let float by with little more than a realization that it was, in fact, Easter. Without the littles running amok, what was the point?
Yet, thankfully, it wasn’t long before the families with kiddos became our friends with kiddos.
Since they aren’t always around, the littles I met here couple with missing the littles I’ve known in California for over a decade brewed a new reality: every holiday is cause for celebration, kids or no kids.
And so, along came Easter weekend, and there were kids and also no kids.
On Friday, I got my kiddo fix in the form of a lake party under a very nearly full moon to celebrate the birthday of a little lady of the lake.
Although I didn’t know the kids as well, we had yet to establish inside jokes or hand signals, just being around them brought me back to the time of being surrounded by such intimacies. Plus, watching one of them fall asleep while in the middle of gearing up (boots, jackets, gloves, etc.) brought on the belly laugh that only kid foibles can.
Then, came Easter. The plan was a brunch but the day before, inspired by the kiddo time, we decided to add a little play into the brunch-y day.
The Plan: a sort of white elephant meets easter egg hunt, for adults.
Everyone brought a present or two to hide and by 5 pm, the frittatas, quiches and salads (gosh I love brunch) were eaten and the presents were hidden.
The hunt was on.
I was fully impressed. Unearthed were a soldering iron, a movie, a jar of whiskey, a coconut ladle, a leather-bound journal, a backgammon set, a hat and a picture frame. Everyone scored.
Before too long, the sun was starting to make its descent, and in following with my family holiday post-meal tradition, I suggested a walk. The boys were already in pyro mode, setting up for a bonfire, and so the ladies and the pups and I took a stroll down to the river.
An hour later, and the bonfire was roaring and the seats around it filling up.
It was time for the second hunt.
Having fully enjoyed the childhood energy of searching for goodies, we decided this couldn’t just stop at ourselves and so, The Chief and I donned our Bunny tails again and hid a new kind of egg in the shape of a can and the colors of the American flag. That’s right, people: The Great Alaskan PBR Easter Egg Hunt.
The eggs lay in snow-covered trees and in snowmachine nooks, at the top of our library and plopped straight into the snow and one by one, a thirsty bonfire-goer would return victorious with the chilled golden liquid in hand.
Yet, like every Easter I’ve ever been too, one egg remained unfound. I had deemed it the “Golden Egg”, as in my family there is always a Golden Egg. It’s the Cats Pajamas, the Cream of the Crop egg, normally containing a treasure paramount to the other eggs and it is always the hardest to find. My nephew prides himself on his Golden Egg radar and we could have used it because the lone soldier still stands today.
The night faded and I tucked into dreams…
and awoke to one last wiggle of the Easter Bunny’s tail:
A girlfriend had come by and dropped off a chocolate Easter Bunny, and, in very Alaskan fashion, a scoby to make my own kombucha with.
How I love the woods.
Thank you, friends, for coming together for a beautiful meal, for testing and proving that a Himalayan salt candle does, in fact, also serve as a salt lick and for celebrating in kid-like fashion a day which I’ve missed celebrating.
Here’s to the lessons from the littles. I’ll miss you until I see you, but until then, I’ll try to live up to your liveliness.
Happy Easter, happy Equinox and happy Spring to you.