Easter is a big deal in my family – an unsurprising statement for a part Polish girl from a large family. Celebrations always include an absurd amount of food, particularly golabki, babka, pierogis, kielbasa, chrzan… I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to the spellings, but the food tastes like home.
The past few years have been tumultuous. Typically, we have all of us (30 or more) for brunch at one of the houses that can hold all of us. It’s been this way my entire life, yet the past few years have been interrupted. In 2014, I was 38 weeks pregnant and Easter was being held an hour and a half away. On the advice of my doula, I stayed put, cooked like crazy for the two of us, and ate with wild, pregnant abandon.
2015 marked Little Chef’s first Easter, at nearly a year old, and the last Easter at my Grandmother’s house before she sold it.
In 2016, my mother broke her leg severely in February. By Easter, she was out of the rehab center but was living with my grandmother in her wheelchair-friendly senior apartment. Gram went to Easter at my aunt’s, but I brought a full Polish Easter to the apartment to share with Mom, my husband, my son, and my brother.
2017 looked like we’d be back to normal, but my aunt got sick shortly before Easter and decided she couldn’t host. The family scattered to have separate, smaller gatherings, and I hauled all of the makings of a good Polish Easter to my mom’s condo. We invited my in-laws over and had a wonderful feast.
2018 saw the revival of my aunt hosting Easter, though several of my cousins are traveling abroad at the moment, so it was fairly quiet (for us). Here I was, with a free ham from Shop Rite, a driving urge to cook and blast Jesus Christ Superstar, and all that was requested of me was my lemon raisin babka.
You know where this is going, don’t you?
After a long stretch of disillusionment, I began attending church again over the past couple of years… regularly so in the last year or so. I’ve gotten involved with a ministry there that involves cooking meals for people who are homebound, which has been a source of contentment for me. (Surprise – I like to cook. Who knew?) Well, since I didn’t need to host Easter this year, I set up Easter dinners for all of the people we serve. I also made beans for the Easter Bunny BBQ and muffins for coffee hour.
It felt glorious. By the end of it, I was exhausted and tired of smelling ham, but it was all worth it.
I’ve spent this week creatively using the leftovers… more on that to come.