Opinion: Finding Meaning


Family Traditions Honor Easter

By Skip Hellewell

 Traditions reflect the culture of a family. The Beautiful Wife is our tradition guru; though physically petite, she’s our spiritual giant for the religious holidays of Christmas and Easter. This Sunday, the family will gather for our traditional Easter dinner. Weeding in the backyard the other day, I found a plastic egg the grandkids missed last Easter. Inside was the prize, a nickel. We’ll use it again this year.

We love the Holy Week traditions. Yesterday was Maundy Thursday, memorial to the Last Supper. (Maundy derives from the Latin for commandment.) In that ‘upper room’ where the Last Supper was held, the Savior introduced the washing of feet, symbolic of service given to the least among us, then gave a new commandment to all who would be His disciples: To love one another as He had loved them. It’s a simple sentence, but perhaps the most difficult for us humans to truly observe.

Christ next introduced the Holy Spirit, explaining its mission as a comforter, teacher and guide. He also blessed his disciples with the promise of His peace, an unending gift to those who take up His yoke. Judas having left, they sang a hymn and went into the darkening night, towards the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, and all that transpired there.  

Christians around the world observe Good Friday today, symbolized by the cross. Easter Sunday, the most sacred of Sundays, remembers the resurrection that promises immortality to all. These are days of such overwhelming meaning that words fail. I defer to Laguna’s remarkable pastors, priests, and preachers to properly reverence it in their sermons.

Easter Sunday should be the happiest of days. Our family gathering includes a backyard egg hunt where the youngest get first chance at finding eggs hidden by the teens, and the teens find the cleverly hidden egg with their name. Next comes the ‘egg roll.’ It’s sort of like the NCAA’s March Madness—there’s a bracket chart, an apparatus (two opposed ramps where the eggs to roll down and collide), a lot of shouting, a little trash-talking, and at the end, a winner. Funny thing, when two eggs collide, only one breaks. There’s always a survivor. The smaller grandkids love this game because it’s an equalizer—their chance of winning is as good as anyone’s.

The dinner menu follows tradition: deviled eggs (yes, old Lucifer has his moment), ham with pineapple, scalloped potatoes, applesauce (you can find our recipe at Martha Stewart by searching “Skip’s Homemade Applesauce”), orange rolls, my mom’s green Jell-O salad (a remembrance from the last century), and dessert. To include one element of surprise, dessert can be anything tasty. This year a daughter and granddaughter are making “Coconut Cupcakes,” a frosted treat where the shredded coconut simulates the grass of an Easter basket holding candy eggs.

After dinner, we’ll share what Easter means to each of us. The room will grow quiet as we plumb the depths of our hearts, straining to fathom the mysteries of God. We dimly comprehend that Eve bravely did something vital to enable our mortal journey by daring to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. 

And we understand that Jesus, in Gethsemane and on the cross at Calvary, performed a necessary act of sacrificial redemption for all. Our humanness limits our ability to grasp the dimensions of this gift. But we revere the Savior’s great atoning act on this day. And we resolve to be worthier of this infinite gift by loving one another. There’s meaning in that.

Skip fell in love with Laguna on a ’50s surfing trip. He’s a student of Laguna history and the author of “Loving Laguna: A Local’s Guide to Laguna Beach.” Email: 

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