Easter Eggs

After my ex-husband left my and my children were small, times are very hard for us. I was one of those people that fell through the cracks: between not having to pay rent because my house was in foreclosure, and the fact that I was making $6.33 an hour as an office temp, we were not poor enough to qualify for public assistance (except for help with childcare), but we didn’t have enough money to make ends meet. We got most of our food from church food bank, and our clothes (used) from various thrift stores and church friends. There wasn’t anything left over for frivolities or holidays.

Somehow, we managed. But when things got especially tight, there was a special meal that I would make for the children – all year long – that would cheer us up and make them happy. I would hard boiled some eggs, which were cheap protein, and color them as if they were Easter eggs. This would cheer both me and the children up if things got especially difficult.

So this time of year, when I see all the beautifully colored eggs that they have for Easter egg hunts and in children’s baskets, or even on a greeting card, I think about the memories of those times. And I also think about how the meaning of “Easter egg” has changed for me over the years.

Nowadays, I’m a science fiction and fantasy writer and editor. Most of my friends are in the writing and editing community in the genre, and occasionally one of them will write me into one of their books or I will write one of them into one of mine. For example, Bryan Thomas Schmidt did that for me in one of his John Simon thrillers. That’s called being Tuckerized, which is a form of a phenomenon and called an easter egg in writing circles. Basically, an easter egg is when you put in a little something that people familiar with not only your books with the genre at large will recognize as a little jibe, an in-joke, a sly reference to something else in our community – a nesting doll lurking within a book for those who are in the “in-crowd” that have eyes to see. And that in-crowd has expanded because science fiction and fantasy had gone mainstream. Again, for example, when Jim Butcher has another character say to Harry Dresden, “Yer a wizard, Harry,” everyone gets the Harry Potter reference.

I’m glad to see that the term now has positive connotations for me. So excuse me while I go read a friend’s next novel, and embark on an easter egg hunt that has cheerful connotations.

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