Sunday, April 21, 2013
Tectonic plate shift, one table at a time
This was the year a seismic shift took place in our family.
Our house is usually the gathering place for celebrations and holidays. It's not because we're any better at it than the rest of the clan, it's because we have the biggest dining room. My husband and I thought that this Easter our married daughters would be with in-laws, and the rest of the family would be elsewhere. We figured the holiday would be only the two of us doing yard work and partaking of one of our usual weekend favorites, chili and dogs.
Easter Sunday church service was not planned. We may be heathens but we're not hypocrites; if we don't go every week we're not going on holidays either. It was going to be a relaxing Sunday, communing with nature while stick-stacking and raking the lawn. We planned Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" later on with popcorn.
Being alone on holidays is a little strange for us but with grown children, our daughters married within six months of each other last year, holidays became a crapshoot. Our daughters' have in-laws, we have empty bedrooms.
We made mention to a few family members that if anyone wanted to come over on Sunday they certainly were welcome but it was going to be pretty laid back. So it was, that three days before Easter I began planning for 14, including my daughters, less one husband who had to work; seems that almost everybody didn't have anywhere to go either.
For me, having 14 people over for Easter dinner is pretty easy, like pizza night with decorated eggs. We prepared a very Easter-ish kind of meal of ham and lamb. I say "we" but I, as always, handed over the ovens to my husband who knows the difference between legs, shanks and butts and how best to be roast, broil or grill them. The rest of the meal was on me which means I did the veggies and reheated everything else the sister-in-laws brought.
Getting the house clean is my job and considering that we have a 100-pound shed-machine named Harley, corralling dog hair tumbleweeds is always a challenge. The only stressful part of the prep, I had to press, with a cracked iron, a 144-inch long cotton tablecloth, on a rickety old ironing board. The iron is cracked because it topples off the board all the time. I finally ironed the cloth in place, on the table; making sure to shake off the dog hair.
Even though the table seats 10 comfortably, and 12 elbow-to-elbow, we usually have to set a kids' table in the kitchen which seats six adults plus little ones on laps. It's pretty much adjacent, so children can be supervised, and no one feels left out. In our family kids are defined as anyone under 29, so supervision isn't the key, togetherness is, although at the kids' table rolls aren't passed, they are tossed.
This year, the year of the shift, with kids ranging in age from 3 to almost 30, and adults ranging in the age of none-of-your-damn-business, we swapped; kids in the dining room, adults in the kitchen. It wasn't a monolithic transference of actuality but it did tug at my heart that my parent's generation, the elders, the real adults of the family are all gone now; old folks are us.
It's a reality check for sure that we are now the grandparents and aunts and uncles, vying for the positions of patriarch and matriarch of the family. How quickly the time goes from getting an Easter basket to being the bunny who fills and leaves one.
We didn't do yard work but we did watch the kids search for eggs and fly kites. No chili and dogs, but a wonderful shared meal. Never saw Spielberg's "Lincoln" either. So when's the next holiday? Enough said.
CAROLYNN PIANTA HAS KITES STUCK IN THE TREES AT HER HOME. EMAIL HER AT CP.ENOUGHSAID@AOL.COM.
Published in The Times newspaper, a division of The Day in New London, Connecticut.
Published 04/11/2013 12:00 AM
Updated 04/10/2013 06:44 PM