I also remember with vivid detail the elaborate machinations when I was a child of the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus. Like one Easter morning when every person in my family was gathered in our den—and all of a sudden the crystalline tinkle of a bell rang out from the far-off living room! I scanned the den in disbelief and counted my mother and father and sisters. All were there and so not possibly responsible for the ringing bell—yes, at 8, I still totally believed, but part of me must have thought that an adult hand was involved in the holiday magic, otherwise why was I so earnestly scanning the room? But, with all persons accounted for, the ringing bell MUST have been the Easter Bunny! As an adult, and still amazed at this magical feat, I had to ask my father how this happened. Turns out he’d rigged a wire from one room to the other, hid it behind his back and tugged on it, ringing it to signal the arrival of the Bunny Himself. My dad knew I’d be on the lookout, so no convolution was too elaborate for him. How do I love this man. (PS, yes, a little part of my adult self was secretly disappointed when there was a logical explanation for this magical ringing *shrug*)
When Phil and I got married and started our own family, holidays meant holiday pilgrimages—either we would schlep the hundreds of kilometers to be with one parent or another, or they would schlep to us. Suddenly the little 5-person holiday tete-a-tete expanded to include an increasing amount of beloveds: our siblings married and had their own families and our parents remarried and brought their new mates into the fold. One unforgettable Christmas featured 3 sets of parents, including 2 exes, 3 siblings and their spouses, and our babies. It was crowded but wonderful!
Every year since then, we’ve tried, at the very least, to share the holidays with at least one other family, either one of our parents and their second spouses, or a sister or brother and their families. Holiday dinners are lively and noisy and packed.
And then there’s this year. This year, our younger daughter couldn’t get home for Easter (various extenuating circumstances). It’s one thing to not be able to celebrate a feast day with extended family, but to not have our own child at home? I mean, we all agreed to the situation going in. We understood it was all good and right and for the best (in fact, as a result of staying in Montreal, she was able to celebrate a rare Passover with my mom and her husband—a lucky result of the timing matching up for both celebrations). And the rest of the extended family had other Easter commitments. Thankfully, one sister and her husband and my niece and nephew were able to come over for Saturday dinner, and so we held an early and honourary Easter dinner, with several delicious courses of food and quite a bit of revelry (including a ribald game of Pictionary over dessert where certain adults—okay, Phil and I—had to keep reminding themselves—okay, ourselves—that the niece and nephew are still, you know, children!!)
|Easter brunch. I'm on the phone with Michele!|
And then there were three. Easter Sunday was quiet: just Phil, Stefanie, and me. We ate a late brunch and did some chores and then ate a lovely dinner and watched some movies. Yes, it was quiet; yes, I missed my baby; yes, it was changed. For the first time, no noisy table, no elaborate Easter egg hunt, no complicated menu. But it was intimate and sweet. It was also incredibly easy. I think maybe because we accepted our new and changing situation, we made sure to make it, in its own unique way, special.
Deb: I think we are adaptable. Humans are adaptable. Barbara, your memories of family gatherings past are wonderful. We come to expect a certain vibe, don’t we? A certain number of people, a certain succession of events. We count on this to make our holidays the way we have remembered them. We need these things to remain the same. And then we have a surprising delight like you had yesterday and we realize that it can be delightful. We have adapted and found the joy in the new configuration. This is a lesson I have learned in spades over these last few years. The things that were norm are now the new norm. The things I did not think could ever change or would ever change ... have changed. And it is special. Each time it changes. Special and new.