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The dye is cast: Dylan shares her family's Easter traditions

An elated 8-year-old Dylan with her Easter basket in 1990.
An elated 8-year-old Dylan with her Easter basket in 1990.Courtesy Dylan Dreyer
The Dreyer family in Manalapan, N.J., in 1984.
The Dreyer family in Manalapan, N.J., in 1984.Courtesy Dylan Dreyer

By Dylan Dreyer, Weekend TODAY

With Easter season upon us, we reached out to Weekend TODAY weather anchor Dylan Dreyer to share some of her memories of what the holidays mean to her and her family. Here’s what Dylan had to say.

Dylan and her brothers wait on the stairs in 1993.
Dylan and her brothers wait on the stairs in 1993.Courtesy Dylan Dreyer

On Easter, I’d be the one to wake up first, then I’d go down the hall and wake up my two older brothers. Once I was sure they were awake, I’d wake up my parents. They took forever to get up and ready and the three of us kids would have to wait on the stairs until they were.

We’d slowly creep down, one stair at a time, but would never dare to go all the way downstairs because we knew our dad would kill us! We’d pass the time by trying to sneak a peek in the reflections on the pictures on the wall to see if we could spot a colored egg. Eventually our mom and dad would walk past us on the stairs, but then they’d have to go to the kitchen to make coffee, then find the video camera. Even that took a long time because it was one of those old-fashioned film cameras that took forever to set up, even though more modern ones were certainly on the market.

Then they’d go into the living room and say “Nope! Guess the Easter Bunny didn't come this year!” That was our cue that we could run into the living room and start the hunt. It was the same old lie that was told to us every year. We knew the Easter Bunny always came to our house!

The whole tradition would begin the night before, when my mom would hard boil a couple of dozen eggs while we were at church. She had plenty of time to do it, because the Easter vigil is a long Mass! My poor dad had the task of keeping three kids focused and awake through the whole thing.

When we got home, the Paas egg-dying kit would be on the table and I’d measure out glasses of water and vinegar. After we dropped in the magic dye tablet, we’d all grab clear crayons and start decorating our eggs. It was always fun setting them in the dye long enough for them to turn into the most brilliant colors, and of course then we'd see how sloppy our invisible egg drawings were. But it was a clear marker of whose eggs were whose, so the Easter Bunny wouldn't mix them up! 

A very young Dylan Dreyer tastes some candy at Easter in 1983.
A very young Dylan Dreyer tastes some candy at Easter in 1983.Courtesy Dylan Dreyer

When it was time for bed, I’d leave out some carrots and water for the Easter Bunny, then I’d try as hard as I could to sleep through the night. I had to get some sleep because the next morning started around 6 a.m.

We’d each have our own room to hunt in: Jamie got the living room (he’s the oldest, so he got the biggest), Mike would have the dining room, and I’d have the little sitting room off the kitchen. I was the youngest and those were the breaks.

Now finding our colorful eggs hidden in the most obvious of places was great, and finding the giant Easter basket full of candy and little presents was even better (mine was always hung from a hook on the ceiling). But the best part was breakfast. We’d take two of our newly discovered eggs, peel them, and mash them up with mayo, salt, and lots of pepper. My dad would make a pile of buttered toast and a plateful of bacon and it was the absolute best breakfast ever. It was Easter breakfast, which was more predictable and traditional than what we ate for dinner. (Come to think of it, I’m not even sure what our standard Easter dinner was. Ham I assume, but don’t quote me on that.)

After breakfast, I had to go check out if the Easter Bunny ate his carrots. He always did, and there were always two perfect, huge marks of bunny teeth proving he gnawed away at them!

An elated 8-year-old Dylan with her Easter basket in 1990.
An elated 8-year-old Dylan with her Easter basket in 1990.Courtesy Dylan Dreyer

As time went on and my brothers moved out, I was the only one left waiting on the stairs on Easter morning. But right on schedule, my dad and I colored eggs the night before, they were hidden away on Easter morning (only now with everyone out of the house, I got the biggest room!), the Easter Bunny ate his carrots, and we’d eat our egg salad with toast and bacon. Age wasn't a factor: teens, 20s, 30s.

Even just a couple years ago, my dad visited me in Boston for Easter and we colored eggs after church, I waited on the stairs the next morning, the eggs were hidden, then found and eaten. 

That’s why I love holidays. It’s the family tradition, the familiarity of that season that comes each year, the childlike excitement, and the genuine laughs and smiles that bring you back to your youth. My brothers have passed those same traditions on to their kids, and I will someday too.

Until then, Mr. Easter Bunny? You can now find me in New York City. And I’m sure my dad and I will have those eggs colored for you! 

Dylan Dreyer is weather anchor for Weekend TODAY. She's a native of Manalapan, N.J.


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