Spring. Easter. Passover. An extra hour of daylight because of daylight savings time. Spring flowers. Turning on of the sprinkler systems here in the Northeast. The sunny days are clear even though it’s still pretty cold most of the time. There’s actually a freeze warning in effect for tonight, although we’re expecting a high of about 61° on Sunday. It’s mixed up weather, kind of like emotions are mixed up right now in my house.
When I was growing up in a household that recognized Easter and Passover, neither was a particularly religious or serious observance for me. Matzoh Brei for breakfast and an Easter basket with a little stuffed bunny and some sweet treats had equal standing our home.
I started experiencing more formal Easter dinners when I started dating my husband. The woman who would become my mother-in-law always set a beautiful table complete with lovely china and stemware. When I declined to try tasting lamb, I vividly remember Chris’ Dad waggling his eyebrows at me and doing his best imitation of a lamb bleating. Years went by, and sometimes we would go to the homes of his relatives for Easter dinner, or even out to a nice restaurant.
After we were married and had our own home, I took great pleasure from hosting Easter meals. We would go to church and then reconvene at home where guests would arrive in the late afternoon. I was in charge of food planning and prep, Chris handled setting up the Easter egg hunt and whatever other surprises we had planned. The table was set using my own china and stemware, and usually fresh flowers at the center. The day would be filled with inevitable chaos, but always happiness too.
The long day almost always ended with a viewing of Ben Hur or The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston and his iconic voice. After any remaining guests departed, children would be deposited in their beds and then Chris and I would kick back and deconstruct the day the way couples always do.
It seems like every year it got better. And then it started to get worse in some very serious ways.
Loved ones started dying for various reasons. People moved far away. Chris was killed. My disability worsened and more people vanished from our lives. Other close relatives died. Covid forced further changes.
In the midst of all the changes, my kids got so big! As of just a few days ago, 2 of them are licensed drivers. My daughters each have a boyfriend, and I’m sure within the next couple of years my son will also be dating.
Easter and the onset of spring will never be the same.
Don’t get me wrong here … I know that change is inevitable in life. In order to survive, we have to adapt. That’s the way life has been since time began, and it’s the way it always will be. But that doesn’t make it easy to deal with.
I no longer get to enjoy Easter sitting with my children around a perfectly set, formal dining room table. Instead, we set up a small table in the part of our house where I comfortably spend the most time. We use disposable patterned plates and cups instead of china and stemware. Matching paper napkins go in the trash instead of tossing cloth ones in the wash. Since I can’t cook anymore, the kids and I do a combination of catered and homemade food for the holiday. We make it work.
Covid restrictions in our area have eased a bit but we’re not expecting any company, except visits from the young men my daughters are dating. Maybe we’ll all watch a movie together … I really don’t know how it’ll all pan out.
I got Easter gifts for my 3 kids because, thanks to online shopping and online gift wrapping, that’s a tradition I can continue to uphold. There are no stuffed toys, or any type of toys at all involved anymore, of course, just some little things I thought were appropriate to celebrate the sense of rebirth and rejuvenation that both Easter and Spring represent.
Easter has been a microcosm of the huge changes our lives have gone through. For me, in many ways it is a more difficult holiday time to navigate than the Christmas holiday season. There are far more opportunities to engage with the joy of the world at Christmas. Easter is quieter and more intimate.
For me, the rhythm of the holiday is no longer recognizable at all. I’m well aware that as my kids grow up, move out and move on, there’s a very good chance it will end up being a painfully quiet day amongst other painfully quiet days. It’s a scary prospect. I’m still some years away from having an “Empty Nest” but for some reason it’s really struck me now just how difficult those days are going to be. My husband used to joke with me about what we’d do when he was retired, and it was “just us” again. Instead, I have the disabled single parent reality of there being a future of “just disabled me” out on the horizon. I’m not lying when I say it’s a scary thought.
So, this weekend I’m going to try and focus as much as possible on time spent talking to and laughing with my kids, working on a 10-page writing assignment for my last class at school, and finishing notes for an author about a book she’s written. I’ll enjoy the flowers I treated myself to and the sunshine beaming through my window today.
Yes, I’ll probably tear up a time or 2 about Easter holidays of the past, but I’ll still appreciate the fact that I’m sharing it this year with the 3 people I love the most in this world. We have to live for today or we’re not living at all.