On Easters past, when the children were young, the day began early (sometimes, too early). Our three would race around the main floor in search of Easter eggs and treats, knocking each other (and the occasional chair or vase) over in their competitive zeal. Somehow, I managed to wrench them away in time to get to church, dressed and looking Easter-y.
West Side Presbyterian was always decked in the creamy whites of lilies with dashes of yellow daffodils. Bells and brass would echo all the way to the front steps, a glorious beginning to the service that would follow. There were Bible readings, of course, and the sermon, but the star of that morning was the music – the orchestra seated in front, the choir (including my husband, Scott) ranged above. Non-believer that I am, it was always this that moved me, and raised my spirits as I stepped out of church that morning, and plunged into the joyous chaos that was preparing the Easter dinner and getting my high-on-chocolate children to help set the table and tidy the house before the arrival of our guests. Easters past were all about ceremony, ritual, the extended family gathering for feasting.
Easter present is quite different.
We’ve moved to the middle of nowhere, which makes travel (even in non-pandemic times) much more difficult. Our children are grown, with partners and other obligations; it is no longer a given that all three will be home for Easter. Advancing age and girths have streamlined all those “must-haves” for the feast: dessert is a no-no, as is heavy cream and generous use of butter. Julia Child, whose recipes have governed so many feasts in the past, would despair. There is no church to attend, certainly not one that rises to the musical heights of West Side. We make do with radio broadcasts from Kings Choir, Cambridge, and old records. Our new Easter is quiet, relaxed, and finding its own changing rhythms.
This year, we are gathering outdoors with friends. Our host is Polish, and everyone is contributing something semi-Polish (well, in our case) for the main courses he is preparing. Next year will be different, too, I expect. That is the new normal, and one we are happy to embrace, given that we will always have those memories of Easters past.