Easter was early, and so was spring, so we first thought to celebrate it with a walk and a picnic instead of a sit-down meal. We being Jim, Jack, Kian and I – the other we, my blood family, would meet at my mother’s table for supper.
But ideas are ideas and Easter asks for brunch, so we had a big one at Jim and Kian’s. Kian greeted people with a tour of their yard, which is taking great shape. The greenhouse frame now sits on concrete blocks, ready to be filmed in plastic and used. The fruit trees are flowering, and daffodils scream up in bunches.
Inside, Jim offered mimosas and Jack made omelets. I cut babka and made a huge salad with greens from the market: lettuce, arugula and mesclun mix. Some carrots and oil cured olives. People brought quiches and pea sprouts (!). Geri brought an Easter pie from Bella Napoli.
As if this wasn’t enough, we had dessert. A Polish sponge cake with fruit and whipped cream made by Jasmine. A cheesecake Geri brought. Saffron cookies. And spaghetti and meatball cupcakes the kids made with Alan of cupcake cookbook fame, most recently Cupcakes and Cookies and Pie, Oh My! Talk about a sugar shock!
I was in a good mood even before the sweets, excited about the way the day marked spring and renewal. I grew up going to a hippie Catholic church just up the hill from where we live. Jim went there too – that’s how our long bond began, a string of Sundays gluing us together.
Easter mass was jubilant, the altar crowded with baby animals. Sometimes, I’ve wanted to go to church on Easter as an adult, to try to tap into that excitement, but not enough to put aside my feelings about the Vatican.
This Sunday, I felt primed for renewal. What could I be next? What will this spring bring? Everything felt open: the ground almost ready for seeds, my brain ready for change, the rest of the year kind of uncharted. Will Francis go to boarding school? Will we finally finish our yard, transform it from death trap to oasis?
Brunch was fun and filled with that anticipation, bright with people I love.
Afterwards, we went to Melrose for dinner. People sat around the crudités at the kitchen table while my mom and I got side dishes ready. My Uncle Jack and Aunt Sue came, and everyone, already fed at other Easter meals, joked about the plenty we were about to enjoy.
My mom made us Easter baskets, but not from wicker. The kids got bags of candy and toys. We grown up kids got our candy and trinkets on things my parents received when they were married. Mine came on a silver platter.
While playing cards, we broke into the sweets, pushing the sugar silliness to a new level. Molly, who is fourteen, and Francis, who is almost that old, talked about music and made hand gestures I didn’t recognize.
“Mom, you live under a rock,” Francis said as I missed a pop culture reference. “And sometimes I shine a flashlight under that rock to show you a little bit about the world.”
Wow! He doesn’t usually talk like this, and a few years back, he lived under a rock, too. Versed only in the finer points of vegetable varieties and what climates favored which fruiting trees. Now he dresses snappy enough that strangers comment on his fashion sense – thanks Uncle Kian – and he knows lyrics and singers I’m not going to learn.
“Anything you know about is also under a rock, Mom,” Francis continued. “Dig another tunnel underground to all these people who are really into grains. Also under a rock.”
“That’s funny,” I told him, “but you’re on the verge of going too far.”
Oh, what echoes we live in – Amy, you’ve gone too far – is the phrase most commonly delivered by my parents to my teenaged self.
In the car on the way home, Francis put the radio on some station, and Felix asked for a definition of pop music. Francis asked why I knew pop music from when I grew up, but not now. It was wallpaper, I explained, bleeding in from our car radio, supermarkets, dentist offices, school dances, and gym class.
Music, chocolates, masses I went to in the 1970s – these things helped me become who I am. My kids are getting molded, too, but none of us are taking a static shape. I think each day is somewhat blank, ready for us to renew our cells and renew our selves.
Sure, in another month we’ll look like us. Francis will be taller and Felix’s hair will be longer. Food and thoughts will have moved through us, and made their mark. But who will we be? The same and new again, if we’re lucky.
Thanks Alan Richardson for the pictures to tell the story.