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Sugar egg crown jewel of basket

The shelves were full of them, every shape, color and size imaginable. Standing at the end of the aisle, rows of pastel plastic, dyed wicker and rainbow-colored fabric waiting there before me, I was overwhelmed. This was a serious decision I had to make, and it shouldn't be taken lightly.

Granted, I don't know if I even noticed at the time what my Easter basket -- the actual basket -- looked liked when I was young. I was more interested in what was inside it. The explosion of chocolate and jellybeans and surprises like little plastic pop ups shaped like rabbits or chicks wobbling on top of a little spring and a suction cup that you stuck on the floor after wetting the bottom -- don't lick it, lick your finger and wet it, mama would say. Then you pushed down until it clicked and waited a few seconds ... waited ... until ... POW! the spring released and the little plastic rabbit popped up in the air and landed across the room.

And I would laugh and laugh, especially if it scared mama, and I'd be annoying all day with it until it hit daddy in the head or the spring broke or it mysteriously disappeared.

I have heard of children these days getting iPods and credit cards in their Easter baskets. I think that's fine if that's what the Easter Bunny wants to give them, but I'd like to think the Easter Bunny a simpler fella who hops around leaving chocolate bunnies and Pez and Fruit Stripe gum and little bright yellow pipe cleaner chickens and maybe a stuffed animal.

We had an issue with the Tooth Fairy when our son was in kindergarten and he came home from school to announce that she had brought someone in his class a dress and shoes and a $20 bill but had only brought him a dollar.

I told him the Tooth Fairy once left a hundred pennies in a purple, drawstring Crown Royal bag under my pillow so he should feel lucky he got a whole paper dollar bill. Then he asked me what Crown Royal was and I told him to go brush his teeth.

Almost everything in your Easter basket was fair game when we were young if you left it out where just anybody could swipe a malted egg or Pixie Stix. I'd even trade my Boston Baked Beans (gross, yuck) for one of those big, chewy Sweet Tarts or a few Tootsie Rolls. But it was an unwritten rule that you didn't even mention the crown jewel of the Easter basket. All the Sugar Daddies and candy cigarettes in the world couldn't make me trade my sugar egg.

I'd sit and stare at it every year, that hollow sugar egg that sparkled and smelled so sweet, with the peephole on one end trimmed in delicate icing. Inside was always a magical scene of frosting flowers or tiny animals made of sugar and you could eat it, oh yes, all of it, but I never did. I just wanted to look at it and save it forever. It usually ended up getting broken weeks after Easter, or being licked by the dog. I remember one particular post-Easter I accused my siblings of stealing my beloved sugar egg. Then Sheba, our beloved Basenji, threw up all over the shag carpet and it was green and pink. At least somebody ate it.

Amid the chaos of baskets, I managed to find two simple, sweet ones this year. There was a chocolate bunny in each and jellybeans and malted eggs and Pez and Fruit Stripe gum. But, sigh, no sugar eggs.

And no Boston Baked Beans. Yuck.

Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at flyn1862@bellsouth.net.