I’ve joined another family. Mine didn’t quite work out the way I thought it would so I just got myself adopted into Kristin’s brood. And so here I sit on Easter Sunday, living out someone else’s traditions. I’m carefully crafting ukrainian easter eggs, eating someone’s homemade zucchini bread and waiting for the cascarones and the annual retelling of the story when Victoria couldn’t get the egg to break on Stephano’s head. Cascarones, in case you didn’t know, are special confetti-filled eggs that are dyed to look like regular Easter eggs, but are blown out and filled with confetti and glitter. Breaking them on a child’s head at Easter is meant to bring good luck and another year of healthy growing spurts. This is a tradition that has been going on in Kristin’s house for years, at least 15 of them as her son marks the calendar. But one year when the boys were about 2 or so, a little too young to break the eggs themselves, her best friend Victoria tried to smash an egg on top of her own son Stephano’s head. But the egg didn’t break on the first tap, nor the second or the third. Victoria was determined and kept at it, blinded by the fact that she was whacking her son with an egg that wouldn’t break. She was focused and steadfast in her quest to have that egg break and shower her toddler with confetti. Stephano pulled away with fear in his eyes and started to cower, cover his head. He is almost at the point of tears when finally the egg breaks and the little slips of paper float down his shirt. The next year the cascarones come out and Stephano runs out of the room covering his head.
My own family traditions involved an Easter egg hunt at my girlfriend Kitty’s house in Montara. Every year some grouping of families would show up with exceptional dishes for a sumptuous potluck and toddlers eager to hunt through the tall grasses for candy and toys. We were like a group of tumbleweeds looking for tradition. The first year I brought Kerwin I didn’t give him a basket for his treasures. He’d go from one chocolate egg to the next carrying as much candy as he could, but he was often faced with the dilemma of having to put something down in order to pick up another egg. That was the year he learned how to use his pockets. The next year he wanted a basket.
We all love that story of the cascarones, and tell it even though Victoria and Stephano can’t join us and are now living in Rome. That family is now battling back death as the dad faces chemo for prostrate cancer. My only family is scattered, my son at a sleepover that goes on through the entire weekend, an ex that is probably sleeping somewhere with someone, sisters miles away. And so I sit and am grateful the ebb and flow of what family really means. We may all start from one biological egg, we may incubate and take shape with the help of our mothers, but our nests tend to change shape as we need them to fit our way of life at the time.