We held our first annual family Easter Egg Hunt in 1990, the first Easter when Matt could walk. As years passed, more siblings and cousins were added, and the hunt grew and changed locations – until we were hiding over 400 filled eggs in my sister’s backyard for 9 cousins to find.
I’d always just assumed that as the kids aged, they would outgrow hunting and be relegated to watching from the deck. That almost happened the year Matt was 13. We agreed it was a good age to switch from “hunter” to “hider,” and he had a great time helping his uncles stash eggs for the younger kids to find.
But he didn’t have a great time just watching the younger kids look for the eggs, and the adults felt a little sorry for him. So the next year, when one of his cousins joined him in the 13-and-up category, we made a new rule: the older kids could hunt, but they had to give the littler kids a 10-15 minute lead. This also meant the adults had to come up with more creative hiding places, so everybody had more fun!
A similar transition took place with Christmas stockings. There came a year when the older two decided to help Mom fill the stockings. It only happened one year, though, because on Christmas morning it wasn’t much fun to dump out their stockings when they already knew what was inside.
Mom’s still filling Christmas stockings, but this year the Easter Egg Hunt finally came to a close. Matt’s 21 now, and his youngest cousin is almost 13. As the kids grew, we’d gotten creative – like the year we hid jigsaw puzzle pieces in the eggs. The cousins had to assemble the puzzle, flip it over, and read the poem written on the back which gave clues to where the loot was stashed. It had seemed like a great idea in the planning stages, but in reality it led to squabbling and disgusted comments of “I give up – you guys finish it yourselves” from the older cousins. By the time they got the goodies, they didn’t much care.
It was by mutual agreement that we didn’t dig out the eggs and hide them this year. Two of the cousins went to California for Easter, and it just provided a natural opportunity to change tradition. I feel a little sorry for the younger cousins who didn’t get 20 years of hunting eggs; we’ll see if they clamor to bring back the tradition next year.
So how old is too old for teens to participate in the family traditions? Obviously, I don’t believe there’s a “proper” age. It should just happen naturally, when everyone senses it’s time to stop.
I’ll let you know when that happens with Christmas stockings!