– Effie’s Easter –

Hi, I’m Effie. How was your Easter? Here is my story…

Usually I spend Easter meeting my friends in the park. We hunt together for eggs that our parents have hidden behind the slide, under the park benches and at the bottom of trees. They’re not real eggs! They’re plastic and you break them open to find lots of little, hidden chocolate eggs. It’s really fun…and delicious!

But this year, we are stuck inside!

This year, my brother says we WON’T be going to the park.

And we WON’T be finding yummy, chocolate Easter eggs.

Even worse, we WON’T be seeing our friends!

I have two best-friends: Ruby and Zara. They are the most fun ever! But school has been closed for weeks now and we can’t play together. They can’t even come to my house because families are supposed to stay at their own homes for a little while. I never thought I’d say this but I cannot WAIT to go back to school!

I tell my mother this every day.

‘I really just want to go back to school. Pleeeeeaaase!’

She shakes her head and laughs.

My mother set up her office at home now so she can look after me and my brother, James. When I tell her that I am bored or that I miss my friends or that I want to go back to school, she tells me that there are lots of fun things to do at home and to enjoy a bit of time off school.

‘But I still have to do homework!’ I remind her…loudly.

‘Oh, Effie! You’ll soon be back with your friends. Now is a time to be creative. Find creative ways to play with your friends. And you can always play with your bro—’

‘Don’t say play with my brother!’

My brother is two years older than me. I don’t think he wants to play with me either. The sign on his bedroom door says: ‘Keep out!’ So I keep out.

A couple of days ago, my mother said: ‘It’s Easter tomorrow.’ Her face kept looking at her computer and her fingers tapped on the keyboard so quickly I thought she must be typing made-up words. ‘You love to paint. Get your brushes out and we’ll decorate some eggs.’

‘But I want to go to the park tomorrow and hunt for eggs filled with chocolate!’

‘I’m afraid there’s no hunt in the park this year, sweetheart. We can make our own hunt in the house.’ She was now smiling at me but I did not smile back. I wanted to run around the field, swing on swings and log-roll down hills with Ruby and Zara.

‘It’s not the same,’ I answered, then walked back to my bedroom to find my brushes.

After lunch, my mother carried a big bowl of boiled eggs to the table. She had dyed them the colours of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and pink.

‘I DON’T want the pink ones!’ James said and swiped all the blue eggs for himself. Blue is his favourite colour. His eyes are blue. His favourite football team wears blue tops. James always chooses blue trainers when his feet grow out of his old ones.

I have blue eyes, too, but yellow is my favourite colour. Yellow makes me happy!

Green is my mother’s favourite colour. You can tell because she grows plants on every bookshelf and window sill we have. There are even plant pots hanging in our bathroom!

Painting eggs is actually one of my favourite things to do at Easter. I love any time I can use my paintbrushes and paints.

‘This is fun!’ I said to my mother. I was holding an egg in my left hand and painting a tiger face on it with the brush in my right fist. Then I remembered that there will be no Easter egg hunt the next day. ‘But it’s not as fun as seeing everyone tomorrow. I want to go to the hunt!’

‘The hunt’s a tradition,’ James added. ‘We have to go.’

I thought I knew what a tradition is but decided it was best to ask: ‘Is a tradition something special you do a lot so it becomes…even more special?’

My brother gave a more simple answer: ‘A tradition is a tradition, Effie.’

I was a bit confused but James sounded like he knew what he was talking about.

‘Yeah,’ I said to my mother. ‘A tradition is a tradition.’

My mother looked at us both and smiled. ‘I know you want to see your friends tomorrow. I know you want to go the park and that you miss playing outside and you miss school—’

‘Correction—’ James interrupted. ‘Effie misses school. I’d rather stay home.’

‘But don’t you miss your friends?’ I asked him. ‘Don’t you miss Ollie and Fitz?’

My brother answered straight back: ‘That’s why the Easter Bunny invented the phone…and the computer…and the…’

I swung my head quickly to my mother. ‘Did the Easter Bunny invent the phone?’

Everything then went quiet. I watched my mother and my brother stare at each other then they started laughing. Laughing a lot! I didn’t get the joke but eventually I joined in. It was more fun laughing than being upset about not seeing my friends.

That night, my mother came to my bedroom to tuck me in, to make sure I had brushed my teeth and to turn out the light.

‘Don’t forget to—’

‘I know, lovely. I’ll turn on the little lamp.’

The room was dark but a warm glow from my desk light meant I could see my shelf of books, my paints and brushes on my desk, and my ginormous herd of stuffed animals. That made me feel happy. I snuggled under my softest blanket.

My mother laid down beside me and we stared up at my ceiling of small, glowing stars.

‘I wonder what Papa and Grandma are doing tonight.’

‘They’ll be home together, thinking of all of us.’

‘I’ll miss them tomorrow. They always come over for Easter dinner.’

‘And they’ll miss us. But holidays are special times when we think about people we love if we can’t be with them. Soon we’ll all be together and they’ll visit again.’

I looked across my bedroom to my desk, where two of my favourite eggs I painted lay in a small bowl.

‘I’m going to give those eggs to Papa and Grandma next time I see them.’

‘They’re beautiful, Effie.’

Then I fell asleep and dreamt about the Easter Bunny speaking to Santa Claus on his mobile phone.

The next morning, bright beams of sunshine woke me up. Yellow light filled my bedroom and I felt excited about Easter!

Delicious smells drifted into my room and I remembered today was a holiday which meant a special breakfast was in the making.

‘Happy Easter!’ I shouted from my bed, loud enough to wake my brother in his bedroom and hopefully reach my mother.

‘Happy Easter, Effie!’ My mother answered back. I pictured her standing in the kitchen, making pancakes and humming. She loves to hum in the kitchen. 

James grunted. Loudly. Then another grunt came from the other side of my bedroom wall. I didn’t think that James woke up to lots of sunshine in his room.

‘Breakfast is ready!’ My mother announced from somewhere in the house. ‘Come to the table…and wear shoes not slippers!’

‘I don’t wear slippers,’ my brother hollered back.

I could hear my mother outside James’ door. ‘No need to shout, lovely. Just be at the table in two minutes. And don’t wear socks.’

This all sounded exciting. Don’t wear socks!

I pulled on my favourite red trainers. The ones that help me climb trees faster and run faster than anyone in my class. James arrived at the table wearing his blue ones. Always blue.

We devoured a huge breakfast of pancakes with syrup and strawberries and orange juice. Tall green vases full of daffodils, picked from our garden, decorated the table. The day already felt warm and sunny. A perfect day for the park.

‘Please can we just go out and meet—’

‘No, sweetheart. The three of us can go for a short walk but no meeting friends. We are lucky to have a garden and we have each other.’ My mother walked into the kitchen then returned with two large Easter baskets filled with jelly beans and tiny chocolate eggs wrapped in neon-coloured foil of many colours. In the centre of each basket was wedged a large, chocolate egg—one for me and one for James.

Squeals of ‘oohs’ and ‘thanks’ echoed with delight at our table. I gave my mother an Easter card I had secretly made for her. I knew she would love it because it was a picture of her garden with green paint everywhere. There were lots of birds flying in a blue sky. And a giant, yellow sun hung above rows of flowers.

‘Where are the eggs? Where’s the bunny?’ Asked my brother, who had no card for our mother.

‘It’s an Easter card about spring. This is what spring looks like,’ I said, frowning at James. ‘It does look like spring, doesn’t it?’

‘It’s beautiful, Effie. I love it!’ My mother gave me a big hug and kissed the top of my head. She leaned in to give James a kiss but he pulled away. This is a new thing for James. He thinks he’s grown up all of a sudden because he’s turned ten. I think he looks the same as he did when he was nine.

‘Yuck! No way!’

‘It’s a tradition…I thought you loved traditions!’ My mother began to laugh. Then I got her joke and I laughed, too.

‘That’s what you said last night,’ I reminded my brother. 

‘I said I wanted to go to the Easter hunt and meet my friends. THAT is a tradition I like. Not kisses from my mother.’

‘Handshake?’ She smiled at James and he began to slowly mirror her grin.

He held his hand up in the air and they high-fived. It felt like a compromise.

‘Okay, get ready! James, go get your phone and Effie, get your tablet, then meet back here in one minute.’

Soon afterwards, my mother’s phone and my tablet each began to ring. Then James’ phone started ringing. Then my mother’s laptop on the table also started to twinkle with the sound of an incoming video call.

Magically, all at the same time, my friends’ faces appeared on each screen: Ruby on my tablet and Zara on my mother’s laptop. Then James’ best friends joined the party: Ollie on my mother’s phone and Fitz on my brother’s phone.

‘Okay, kids…everyone here?’

We all shouted ‘yes’ together.

She continued: ‘Your parents and I wanted to give you an Easter treat. We know you are missing each other and want to meet today. Since that’s not possible, we’re going to have an online Easter Egg hunt!’

We all shouted ‘yay’ together.

‘While you were sleeping, we hid plastic eggs around each of our houses. You have ten minutes to run around and find them. Then we’ll meet you back here at our table. Well, obviously you won’t actually be here but…I’m sure you get it. Now get ready…five…four…three…two…one…go!’

And off we ran, snatching cushions off sofas, opening cupboards, pulling back the shower curtain. I scooped up eggs then shoved them into my pockets. I even pushed them up my sleeves and stuffed them in my socks!

James ran into the back garden and was looking under a gnome when my mother shouted: ‘Five more minutes.’

It was the most fun I had had in weeks, racing around, trying to beat my brother to the eggs. I could hear Ruby and Zara laughing and shouting from the other side of electronic screens when I ran through our dining room.

Then my mother shouted, ‘STOP!’ And we ran back to the table with arms full of coloured eggs.

I sat, catching my breath, and looked at my friends smiling and giggling and counting their stash while James was shouting out to Ollie and Fitz how many eggs he had managed to find. It was like they were there with us.

‘Well done, all of you. Go grab yourself some water or milk and let’s have a virtual party. Let’s celebrate with chocolate!’

We all shouted ‘yes, yes’ and ‘yay’ and ‘great’ and ‘that was so much fun’ before returning with drinks.

My mother propped up all the devices in a semi-circle on the table and we chatted and giggled while stuffing our faces full of yummy mini-eggs. We talked about what it was like to learn at home and what we missed most and the least about going to school. We planned what we would do when we could finally run in the park again together. 

‘Wait ‘til you see how good I’ve gotten on my skateboard,’ Ollie said to my brother.

James one-upped him with: ‘I bet I’m still faster than you!’

Then Fitz, who is rather afraid of travelling on things that go fast, replied that he would happily be the official timer if his two friends wanted to race.

We girls listened and laughed at the boys and how they always wanted to find out who was better than who in everything. Well, James and Ollie did. Fitz was always happy to just watch and cheer them on.

‘My parents gave me the prettiest, pink tutu today,’ said Ruby, who then twirled in front of the camera so Zara and I could ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ at her new ballet costume.

‘Pink tutus!’ My brother exclaimed.

‘Excuse me,’ I said, ‘but we’re trying to have a private conversation here.’

Then we all laughed. I could see everyone smiling on the screens in front of us.

We may not have been able to slide down slides and chase each other, or climb trees or log-roll down hills, but we got to be together and it was brilliant!

After dinner, I asked my mother if I could make an Easter card for Papa and Grandma. She said they would love that.

My mother covered the dining table with a large, plastic sheet. I then swept pastel paint across paper, creating a picture of Easter eggs decorated with pretty patterns, to send to my grandparents.

Before bedtime, my mother and brother and I sat in front of the computer and rang Papa and Grandma.

‘How was your Easter, lovelies?’ asked my Grandma. She always calls us lovelies. That’s probably where my mother gets it from.

‘It was brilliant, Grandma!’ I replied.

‘Yeah, great,’ said my brother.

‘Did the Easter Bunny come or was he too busy talking to Santa Claus?’ Asked my grandfather. My mouth flew open…how did Papa know about my dream last night!

‘We miss you! I made you an Easter card. We’re going to send it to you right now.’

My mother tapped on the keyboard, opening up a photo she took of the painting I made them that afternoon. Then she hit send and it was gone.

A moment later, my grandparents were gushing: ‘Ooh, it’s beautiful!’ and ‘We love it!’

I love the card, too. I love it because it made Papa and Grandma happy and because I got to colour my world today. I coloured it in pretty Easter colours of pale-green and buttercup-yellow, and sky-blue and rosy-pink.

Here is my card…do you love it, too?

Did you colour your world in colours today? What colours would you use?

Did you have a lovely Easter?

I’ll share another story about me and my friends soon!

Effie x

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