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For Reflection and Rituals: Easter Sunday

I have written extensively about the holidays I love, Christmas being my favorite and Thanksgiving coming in a close second. If I am being honest Election Day and my birthday struggle to compete in those number one and number two spots. But I realize I am probably alone in that thinking.

From Halloween until New Years Day there is holiday spirit we can see no matter where we go. Stores are always selling items ahead of time rushing us to the next holiday before we can even enjoy the day that is in front of us.

When it comes to the New Year and spring I often do not count those holidays. You know Valentines Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and last but not least, Easter. I may acknowledge these “minor” holidays in small ways: I send cards to my beloved cousins, niece, and nephew, eat some festive colored candy, and use it as an excuse to take some pictures.

But every once and a while the days you don’t plan on celebrating in a big way surprise you by giving you a sense of pride, family, and happiness. This was my experience this past Sunday.

As a precursor to Easter, I was having Palm Sunday dinner with my immediate family and an aunt and uncle I am very close to. We spend a great day talking about nearly everything from serious topics to stories so funny I am still laughing about them. Even though I might have had similar conversations with these  relatives in the past, we had a truly great day full of bonding and none of the stress that can come from a so-called major holiday like Christmas. Here just being together was the goal and it was so nice that we were able to achieve this. It made me really appreciate how lucky I am to have this family.

With Easter Sunday fastly approaching I felt the need to explore the meaning of this holiday to me and share my traditions. As I get older I am able to see how important family traditions are. Sometimes you get so use to your routine you can become ignorant to blessings you have each and every day. My family isn’t particularly religious, but we go to church, eat a big meal, and look forward to the events we have coming up.

What I remember most about Easter growing up was looking in my Easter basket for the two things I always enjoyed: a white chocolate bunny (I do not eat milk or dark chocolate) and now Jelly Belly jellybeans, by far the best you can eat. I mean they made a jellybean flavored like popcorn for Christ sakes! Ok maybe bad language for a holiday blog but I am who I am.

From birth until the year she died, my grandmother gave me an Easter bunny. I still have the last one she gave me stored away. I like the idea that someday I may have a child of my own to give it to. If not it will always be something that I save. I have taken this tradition and recreated it with the kids who are in my life now. I love buying them presents to make a basket of sorts with special treats. Those a bigger hit than the cards I sent out with a dollar in them. Last year we even did an Easter egg hunt in my house. It is so nice to see excitement over the little things. It changes the whole energy in the room. My babies are just too precious for words.

Another important imprint of our annual Easter celebration is my grandmother’s cheesecake. My uncle (a different one) and his family have been responsible for keeping this recipe alive. It is always the most important thing I eat on Easter. Besides that it brings my dear grandmother closer to us on that day, it is also a tasty Italian treat. For those not familiar it does not have the same taste or texture as regular cheesecake. Our cheesecake is not made with cream cheese, but ricotta cheese. it is more moist than a version you would have in a non-Italian restaurant.

Another important food group comes at the beginning of the meal. I am mentioning it after my favorite dessert because this is the order in which I value them. This “dish” we eat as a cold antipasto and it contains many meats, cheeses, hard-boiled eggs, and lastly slices of oranges and lemons to cut some of the grease going down your pie-hole. It is a hell of a way to begin a several course meal.

When it is time to finally dig in to my dessert while drinking my coffee (usually the one I walked in with) all of us will sit back and we will reflect. There will be more laughs to be had, a birthday to commemorate, and more time to get excited for the family events coming up this spring and summer. We have had a lot of blessings especially this past year and a no nonsense holiday is just what we need.


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