The Ethics of the Easter-Egg Hunt

Let the egg-hunting begin! The anticipation is my favorite part. The kids scope out spots to wait which they believe will give them the greatest advantage – and in a frenzied flash, the mad dash for eggs is over.

But one year, the egg hunt gave me more to ponder than whether or not my kids would be willing to share any of their sweet loot with me.

We were at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, where hundreds of kids were on hand to participate in Cantigny’s first Easter Egg Hunt.

You’ve seen it happen. The guy in charge explains that each child is allowed to keep up to seven plastic eggs – and then you watch, as one after another they dart past you with dozens, scurrying to grab more, while you remind your own kids that they may keep only seven.

“But Mommy, those kids have a ton,” my son Noah, then eight-years-old, protested.

“I know, honey,” I said, gritting my teeth. “No matter what someone else does, you still need to do the right thing.”

At one point, weary of watching my kids hunt through the hedges, their chances of meeting the seven-egg-limit dwindling, I actually heard myself saying – to an older kid who looked to be pushing the egg-hunt’s upper age-limit of 10 years – “Hey man, only seven per customer.”

“I know,” he replied weakly, as he avoided my eyes and dragged his haul past me through the grass. I scrunched up my eyes and silently wished him well, hoping that somehow, someway, he’d remember to share – or that his bag would tear and the extras would slip out.

Perhaps, if we followed him ….

“They’re not going to let them fill their extras anyhow,” another mom remarked, reminding me that the plastic eggs were empty, to be filled by Cantigny staff waiting inside the Visitors’ Center with the goodies.

Her comment reminded me that at least at in this egg-hunt, the fast-grab for the lootwouldn’t matter in the end because the fast-grabbers wouldn’t be allowed to go home with more than their share.

How forward-thinking of the Cantigny staff.

If only this happened more often in real life. You get only what you need, then you get your entitled behind out of the way and let someone else get some.

It occurs to me that this Easter egg hunt was really a metaphor for life. Why do we grab more than we need? And if we find that in our excitement we have unwittingly done so, why don’t we slow down and summon the courage and humility to share a few of our extras with those who weren’t as fortunate, quick or clever as we?

It might have looked like a benign little egg-hunt. But you know what? I think it was an opportunity in disguise.

Don’t worry. We’ll all get another chancethis year.

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