Tag Archives: Ohio

Turkey, Ham, and the Easter Bunny…

When I was small, we went to my Grandma and Grandad Thompson’s in Ohio for Easter.  My brother and I and our four cousins, Sandy, Larry, Barb, and Darin, always got a coffee can full of edible treats.  Each can was personalized, lined with Easter grass,  and hand-decorated by my grandma.  Grandad did all the cooking – a huge ham studded with cloves, mountains of whipped potatoes, and vegetables.  Dessert would be some kind of pie, sometimes peanut butter.  After dinner, my mom and aunts would do the dishes, while the men in the family retired to another room to talk (sleep off the meal!).

Grandma and Grandad Thompson

After we moved to Canada in 1969, we weren’t able to spend Easter with our grandparents, so we had to make our own traditions.  I remember Mom and Dad doing an Easter egg hunt every year for us and our friends  in our yard.  There were times we needed to wear boots for it – depending on the time of year, there was sometimes snow, or deep mud to tramp through.  My dad loved to hide the little chocolate eggs “in plain sight.”  We’d often walk right past them!

Easter Eggs...

We’d also decorate chicken eggs with the PAAS Easter egg decorating kits.  I still remember the smell of the vinegar the little colour tablets had to be dissolved in, and balancing the egg carefully in a spoon to dip it.  The finished product never seemed to look as good as the pictures on the box!

Paas Egg Decorating Kit...

After I had kids of my own, I introduced them to melting crayons to decorate eggs…I still have several egg cartons full of their childhood art.  I continued having an Easter egg hunt every year, but it was usually inside – our Maritime winters are not conducive to outdoor hunts.  Easter in the Maritimes is also different, in that there seems to be a (crazy, in my opinion) tradition of showering kids with all kinds of gifts – my kids always complained about not getting a new bike or new clothes for Easter (each kid would get a chocolate bunny, and the little chocolate eggs from the hunt).  They all survived, though…

This year, Jim wanted turkey for Easter, but the kids wanted ham, so he will cook a Good Friday turkey dinner (I’ve promised to stay out of the kitchen!), and I will make an Easter ham on Sunday for the whole family, including my in-laws (I hope mine is as good as my Grandad’s!).  Maybe Jim’s mom will bring one of her amazing pies.

Baked Ham...

My youngest daughter, Hope, is talking about having an Easter egg hunt, but since discovering the truth about the Easter Bunny (and Santa Claus, and the tooth fairy) this past Christmas, she says SHE wants to hide the Easter eggs…I might just let her…sometimes the Easter Bunny runs out of good places to hide things…

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The Kilbourne Vine Caper…

Mom and Dad didn’t follow the typical path of Midwestern young people of their time: graduate high school, get married, and start popping out kids…Dad did a Bachelor’s in Journalism, followed by a Master’s in Divinity, and dreamed of going “back to the land” (he was raised in rural Ohio).  Mom was a “townie” – an artist who also loved music.  They were becoming more and more disillusioned with Nixon, the Vietnam War, and the crime in our neighbourhood.  In the summer of ’69, Dad quit the church and he and Mom packed up our suburban house.  Off we went to Southern Ontario, Canada.  After renting a house for a year, we settled in an old farmhouse on 43 acres of land in Prince Edward County in 1970.

I remember having a vegetable garden for several years when we first moved to the County.  Mom and Dad bought a big chest freezer, and Mom worked hard freezing everything we managed to grow.

Mom never forgot a plant that grew near the house where we lived when I was born in Kilbourne, Ohio in 1961.  She didn’t know its proper name, but called it “Kilbourne Vine.”  It was pretty, and it grew wild – that’s probably one reason it appealed to her.

Fast forward to the early 1980’s…Mom, my brother and I were planning a trip to visit relatives in Ohio.  It was on that vacation that Mom decided to bring a piece of the past home with her: she wanted to plant some “Kilbourne Vine” in our yard in Ontario.   

Having arrived at my Grandad’s house in Bellefontaine, we set out for Kilbourne one day.  We got there about lunchtime, and Mom guided us to our old house.  We waited in the car while she jumped out and rang the doorbell.  No one answered.  My brother and I were somewhat horrified at what happened next…my mom began pulling pieces of the “Kilbourne Vine” out of the yard!  We kept our ears open for the scream of sirens, as we imagined being arrested by the Kilbourne sheriff for pilfering plants without permission.  Mom came back to the car, showing us her prize in triumph.  We left in a hurry, hoping some nosy neighbor hadn’t alerted the authorities!

We made it back to Bellefontaine without incident…the next hurdle would be getting through Canada Customs.  Having made many trips back and forth to Ohio over the years, Mom knew that bringing plants into Canada was illegal, but she had a plan: “I’ll put it on the floor of the back seat in plain sight, and if they say anything, I’ll just say that I didn’t know you couldn’t import plants,” she said.  My mom the rebel! 

My mom the rebel!

We crossed the Ambassador Bridge and pulled up to the Canada Customs booth in Windsor.  My brother was driving.  The Customs officer was female, in her early 20’s, and was looking at Jeff with love in her eyes…she asked three questions (none of which pertained to the plant on the floor), and we were through!

We arrived home, and Mom planted the vine in her flower garden.  It thrived in its new home.  Twenty years later, Mom took a piece of it with her when she sold our house and moved in with my brother and his family in Carleton Place, Ontario.

Mom died in September of 2007.  The urn with her ashes sits on a stone wall in Jeff’s back yard, with Kilbourne vine planted close by. 

I have seeds from the Kilbourne vine…I will find a special place and plant it here, too, in Mom’s memory.

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