We’ve done it for 36 years – had the family Easter celebration at our house. The crowd size has ebbed and flowed like the tide. This year we had 65.
Everybody brings food – lots of food. My contribution has always been a turkey on the grill and a special Latvian version of sauerkraut.
Easter Sunday itself is a joy. How could it not be with that many people asking where I keep the paper towels or if we have any more ice? The day starts with mass, followed by charcoal on the grill, followed by breakfast consisting of whatever I can grab between the grill and the kitchen.
The tough part of Easter has always been the week before. That’s when I take on the devastation that winter has bestowed upon our yard and gardens. Sometimes this happens while winter is still bestowing.
I have mowed the lawn wearing a parka and heavy mittens. I have waded through ankle-deep water while keeping a sharp eye open for sharks. Even when the clean-up is done the house may be a drifting island in a sea of mud.
Still, people come bearing food. The middle generation makes a big deal out of hiding dozens of plastic Easter eggs, and the youngsters, shrieking with delight, charge across the lawn toting baskets in their hands.
Egg hiding has always been a special project. Years back we put names on the eggs and everyone had to find their own. One young nephew had to shinny up a tree to retrieve his. Another finally gave up after a lengthy search. I found it the next week with the lawn mower.
As the crowd grew we abandoned the names and put numbered slips of paper inside the eggs. Each number corresponded to a prize. When the hunt was over, the games were on with flying Nerf Balls, plastic missile launchers, model airplanes and water pistols. We banned the water pistols forever after too many of the wrong people got soaked.
The egg tree is too big to climb now, and the kid that had to climb it now has grandchildren of his own. Girls and boys have grown into men and women, and a whole generation of new youngsters have flooded the scene.
It’s changed a lot in 36 years. Except for the winter mess, of course, and the outrageous joy everyone brings to the table.