I hope your Easter Bunny did its shopping earlier than mine.
At lunchtime on Easter Saturday, I took a basket into my local Coles only to discover that the display of Easter eggs was being re-done as a display of drinks.
"Where are the eggs?" I asked, naively assuming they had been moved.
"We're pretty much sold out," the staff member nonchalantly answered.
"PRETTY MUCH SOLD OUT?!" It was one of those panic-filled parenting moments, like remembering you'd just missed assembly on the day your kid is receiving an award, or remembering that today is dress-up day at 8am.
It was only seeing other parents grabbing at whatever was left that stopped me from wondering whether I had the day entirely wrong (school holidays can do that).
I sprang into action, calling my local IGA ("all sold out") and Woolworths ("just a couple left, I'd be quick if I were you"). It was becoming clear that the eggs so beautifully requested in my kids' letters to the Easter Bunny were simply not available.
How could this happen? I took to Facebook to find out.
Posting to the Coles Facebook page brought me some solidarity. "My local was sold out on midday Thursday," wrote one commenter. But there was also some serious judgement. "These are the same whingers that whine easter stuff is sold too early," wrote one (accurately, as I was heard to whinge about this on January 2). "You've had 4 MONTHS to buy them?" wrote another.
Yes, I know that Easter eggs have been in stores since January – I have been studiously avoiding them since then. But I didn't buy them early for several reasons.
Firstly, I live in far northern NSW where, until very recently, it has been hot and humid. That's not an ideal condition for chocolate. Secondly, I have limited hiding places available and didn't want my curious kids to discover them. Thirdly, I may or may not have been tempted to sample some of them during a late-night writing session. Fourthly, and I will put this in the least anxiety-provoking way I can, I am terrified of the possibility that the chocolate would attract small fluffly creatures sometimes called Mickey.
Posting to my own Facebook timeline brought me considerably more sympathy (that's what friends are for) and also reminded at least one other family to get out there and shop NOW!
Coles kindly commented on my post. I accepted their disappointment that I was unable to buy what I needed but was not placated by their line stating that: "As we're sure you can appreciate our Easter range has been incredibly popular this year, particularly in the lead up to the long weekend." Um, Easter is always on a long weekend.
One friend put forward the slightly more sophisticated theory that there had been a greater run on eggs because Orthodox and "regular" Easter were on the same weekend this year.
For a while, the jury seemed to be out on whether this is a new problem or not. "It was certainly a change from the norm," agreed one Facebook user. Like her, I remember half-price eggs on sale for weeks after Easter in years gone by. This, of course, is why it makes sense from the retailers' point of view to run their stock down in the lead up to Easter Sunday – they don't want any left over chocolates.
Then my sister-in-law reminded me that two years ago, when she was visiting, we ran around madly on Easter Saturday trying to find eggs. Maybe it's not such a new phenomenon after all.
It looks like it's time to learn from my past experience and hop into my Easter shopping at least a couple of days earlier.
PS: I ended up managing to pull together a collection of eggs, but (pardon the pun) it was a scramble. Another visitor, my mum, came to my rescue – she'd already bought the kids one egg each, then asked a passer-by where he'd bought the eggs he was carrying. We rushed to our local Target, where there was enough left to put together a decent Easter basket offering. The kids were happy, and that's the main thing.