© Another Day in the Country
On Sunday, we had Easter dinner at my house: Sisters, brothers, cousins, cousin’s kids and grandkid (singular). It was a wonderful occasion with a whole turkey that Kristina made (since Jess and I don’t eat ham — an accommodation for the used-to-be vegetarians), dressing, Jirak’s delicious corn that we’d frozen, fresh asparagus, mashed potatoes (Aunt Naomi style) and gravy, and three different salads including Margarite’s funeral salad that I’ve told you about. Our Easter dinner hit the mark!
We haven’t hosted Easter for years because we are now in the category of ‘single women’ who blend in with larger families for special occasions during holidays — always at someone else’s house; but, this year, I got up the nerve to invite everyone to my house.
On Saturday we’d just had a big 65th birthday dinner for my cousin Gary whom we were celebrating! You know, everything is relative! Sixty-five used to feel ancient and now it seems young-ish — Gary hasn’t even retired!
In the tradition of my mother, I set the table ahead of time, adding all the extra leaves. I’d planned, in my imagination, what I wanted it all to look like: SPRING! We would use Doc’s lovely vintage, cross stitched table cloth that has pink and yellow flowers with the yellow plates and there would be a centerpiece of yellow daffodils which I would leave on the table so as not to interrupt the color scheme! I pulled out all my Easter falderohl, including the cutest little bunny napkin rings and dainty Easter salad plates with blue checks. This table was Aunt Anna’s old table and decked out in Easter nostalgia it really hit the mark!
“We have to make an Easter egg-shaped cake,” my sister said. We do this every year, forgetting in the eleven intervening months the tricks for baking and decorating such a concoction. Something always happens! The batter pours over the sides. It doesn’t cook in the middle, while the edges are crusty. The frosting sags. The cake refuses to come out of the molds. The flowers wilt. No matter, the end result is always beautiful. It’s a stunner of a cake and there’s always a picture or two of it in my annual wrap-up photo album to remind us of the event.
This year, I was so weary with the cake and the too-big frosting tips, that I didn’t even eat a bite of it. To be honest, it wasn’t just that — I’d eaten way too much mashed potatoes and gravy and I was still nibbling turkey instead of cake when we served dessert.
After lunch, my cousin “skyped” his daughter in Missouri who was missing from our dinner celebration. “I’ve never done that Skype business,” I admitted and they said I should try it. I texted my own daughter out in California to see if we could arrange it but I couldn’t reach her. Later, much, much later (11:30 p.m. in Kansas) I heard my cell phone, setting on the table in the hall, buzz itself into life and I climbed out of bed in the dark, to check it. “Let’s do it!” was my daughter’s cryptic text and I thought to myself, “Too late in Kansas, honey. Everyone is asleep.”
While we had a great Easter with relatives, I still missed having my own kids at the table. That’s the problem when you live far away from those you love — it’s never quite the same without them, even though you are surrounded by family and friends. Also, that two-hour time difference between Kansas and California can throw a kink in the communication. When they take a breath and check messages — at 9:30 at night — I’m already sound asleep. When I sit at the breakfast table thinking of them at the start of my day, they haven’t yet opened their eyes.
I hunt for ways, like all of us do, to stay connected to their far-away-world. Jess sent a card with a $20 bill inside and instructions, “Go out for coffee on us,” and then asked me, “Will twenty bucks even pay for coffee in California?” We laughed! It cost me ten bucks to mail a little Easter package — almost worth more than the contents: a minature shopping cart (instead of an Easter basket), eggs, a chicken timer, flowers, candy, colored grass, “make an arrangement,” I instructed. Sent Priority Mail, I don’t even know if it hit the mark — whatever that means, or if it got there on time. We tried!
Hitting the mark would have really meant having them present on Easter Sunday for dinner, marveling at the early morning snow that turned into sunshine, nibbling turkey leftovers instead of carrot cake and playing a game of Joker’s and Pegs at Anna’s table after dinner, there, with the rest of us, on another day in the country.