Customs give us comfort

A Scripted Freelance Writer Writing Sample

It's Easter Sunday. The table is set. I've nibbled off the ears on the chocolate bunny. And the boiled eggs are decorated. But the eggs are not sparkling shades of pink, blue or yellow. They're a marbled caramel color, kind of like a turtle cheesecake. And best of all, they're ready for a fight. The unique appearance of these eggs - and their Rocky Balboa personification - is not the result of a defective batch of food coloring. These eggs were colored without using paint and vinegar. Only onion skins and water ever touched the shells. My Estonian family's naturally decorated eggs are more beautiful than anything perfectly dipped and dyed by Paas. And they are more meaningful. As I prepare for graduation and my legal career, Easter Sunday is a reminder that I should never get so busy making a future that I forget to remember the past. Estonians have for centuries colored Easter eggs by using old fabric and the remains of a common aromatic vegetable. Baltic decorators lay onion skins directly on the egg shells, wrap a cloth tightly around each egg, and secure the bundle with a string. The eggs are then boiled and allowed to cool. The process is complete when, upon unwrapping, a uniquely embellished egg reveals itself. Like their Fabergé cousins, no two eggs are ever alike. My grandparents taught my parents this process, my parents taught me and, no doubt, someday I will teach this tradition to my children. But that day is sometime in the distant future. Today I sit down at the kitchen table, my father in his corner, me in mine, both of us preparing for the Estonian Easter egg game to begin. I flex my fingers, shake out my wrists, and mentally get into the zone for round one. Eyeing the dozen or so individually patterned eggs, I select one that strikes me as both strong and lucky. It's the fourth one on the right. It's got my name on it. It's the one. I put it in my right hand. My father, using a criterion still unknown to me, does the same and selects his egg. He puts it in his right hand. Üks ... kaks ... kolm. On the count of three, I hear a familiar crack as the two eggs squarely hit each other like atoms in a super collider. My father and I are not immune to the childish impatience that accompanies this game. We are quick to examine the ovoid wreckage following the crash. I may be younger and quicker, but my father's wisdom and experience prevailed. His egg is fully intact, eager for round two. Mine is cracked, destined to be peeled, sliced and deliciously deviled. Another knockout in round two. I am beginning to think my father brought in a wooden egg, a "ringer," to this year's game. But he's playing fairly. And like years before, he'll let me win a round or two by pretending to miss the count of three. And I'll pretend that I didn't notice. Not all traditions last. As our lives get more complex, it becomes increasing attractive to let go of the things we do for "tradition's sake." We get busy. We get tired. We get tempted to skip the Estonian egg game. Yet when the only thing constant is change, Old World tradition brings stability to new world uncertainty. No one knows what will happen next year, next week or even tomorrow. But in these uncertain times, for me at least, it's comforting to know I can always count on the magic that happens when my family combines cloth, onions and eggs. It's Easter Sunday. The table is set. I've nibbled off the ears on the chocolate bunny. And the boiled eggs are decorated. I can't wait to get cracking.

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