Keep your eye on the prize

Originally Appeared in : 9910-5/9/19

While the Lenten season sacrifices of soda, dessert, and socks at our house had been ongoing for 40 days and 40 nights, sunset on Holy Saturday had officially signaled the start of Easter celebrations and an unexpected nighttime egg hunt.


Deemed as “practice” for the official event set for Easter Sunday at Grandma Mary Louise’s, (GML for short) this substantially smaller variation still included one common main attraction: the Golden Prize Egg.


Started in the early 2000s as an added element of competition between Noah and his cousin, Brannon, the Golden Prize Egg had elevated in stature as the number of children at the Halcombe House grew to include nearly two foursomes.


Much like winning a green jacket at Augusta, claiming the Golden Prize Egg had always been considered a high honor attained by only a select few. That select few did not include one highly-competitive, yellow-haired seven-year-old.


Jesse’s Golden Prize Egg shortfalls, much like “The Shark” Greg Norman’s near misses at The Masters, have become the stuff of legend, memes, and gifs.


Two years ago, Mother Nature had forced the festivities indoors which made for a unique search around entertainment centers, under sofas and behind playpens. The Golden Prize Egg balanced atop a golden picture frame in our living room, which Jesse passed by no fewer than seven times.


There is a video of Jesse saying he has no clue where the egg could be as it sits on the frame above his left shoulder. (I might need to send that to America’s Funniest Videos, come to think of it.)


Last year the event returned to the front yard and Jesse stayed true to form walking past the Golden Prize Egg for nearly a half hour before Eli happened upon it unexpectedly.
“I really hope I find the Golden Prize Egg,” Jesse said during the pre-game press conference this year.


“Guys,” I told everybody as I clicked on a flashlight, “no matter who finds the Golden Prize Egg let’s be happy for them and not jealous.”


Jesse must not have heard me.


Blind sprints through the yard by varying sizes of munchkins had yielded 28 of the 31 total eggs and no one, to that point, had discovered the Golden Prize Egg sitting between the googly eyes and steering wheel of the Cozy Coupe. Jesse had found nine eggs—the most of any single competitor—while Eli had only recovered one egg.


Eli meandered around the boxwoods to the Cozy Coupe and, after minutes of investigation, sprinted back into the front yard shouting, “jackpot.”


Jesse was not happy. In fact, Jesse was sure enough loathsome.


“Jesse Luke Halcombe,” Magan said (middle names at our house mean mama means business), “if you don’t change your attitude you can march yourself straight to bed.”


“Here Jesse,” Eli added, attempting to hand over the five dollar cash prize in the Golden Prize Egg to his big brother to keep the peace, only to watch Jesse shrug and shake his head in dissent.


“On the day before Easter no less,” Magan continued. “You know Christ died and rose from the grave tomorrow so you could go to heaven and all you’re worried about is five bucks.


That’s highly disappointing, son.”


Night came, and it was Easter.


I’d like to think it was the sunrise shining through the stained glass Crucified Christ above the altar of St. William Church on Easter morning that caused Jesse to think existentially about his transformation into a Golden Prize gg-coveting Gollum. But I think the roughly 600 eggs and eight Golden Prize Eggs waiting at GML’s after Mass ultimately helped him see the error of his ways.


GML had established egg hunting zones for different twosomes, and Eli and Jesse embarked to their zone in front of the detached garage to begin scouring for 150-or-so of the candy-filled cackleberries.


A simple, “Here Eli, look, there’s some for you,” from our yellow-haired fellow showed me that Jesse had taken Magan and my words to heart. He continued to help Eli look for eggs and still managed to come away with plenty of his own.


When Jesse stopped looking at the search for the Golden Prize Egg as a competition to be won and, instead, as an opportunity to engage in fellowship, he found a more profound joy that an additional five bucks could never offer.


The night before, Jesse had succumbed to very kind of temptation that Christ fought against in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11). Easter morning, however, Jesse was heeding the lesson found two chapters later in Matthew 6:26-34 that says if the birds of the air and lilies of the field don’t worry about Golden Prize Eggs, then why should we?


As Jesse grows older, the temptation to believe the world, and not God, can satisfy our needs will grow stronger. Hopefully, Jesse will keep his eye squarely on the ultimate Golden Prize Egg in the sky, and know a pious, giving spirit is the only way to find it behind the cherubim sitting to the left of the Cozy Coupe in heaven.


Jason Halcombe has five sons and two daughters. He and his wife, Magan, are members of Immaculate Conception Church, Dublin.


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