Growing up as I did, one of many children with lots of aunts and uncles, holidays were always highlighted with big meals. Of course, Thanksgiving was the Queen Mother of all these spreads, but Easter was always right up there, too. My mom and my aunts would cook for days, everything made from scratch. For nearly thirty years, I have tried to live up to that legacy. A few years ago, I had an epiphany.
No matter how long a cook takes to prepare a meal, no matter how many hard-to-find ingredients are required, no matter how great a hand-me-down recipe may be, it still takes everyone about a half hour to eat the entire repast. That light bulb came on when my children were young and has grown brighter every year. Yes, my family appreciates my cooking but hey, what they don’t know won’t hurt them.
There are several bakeries out there who make better yeast rolls than I do, and I make a pretty mean roll. The Honey Baked Ham Company has me beat hands down in the main course department. Potato salad is sold in every store in the free world, and most of them taste the same - awful. Nobody in my family will eat it anyway. That leaves, say, baked beans (how hard can they be?), deviled eggs (my youngest daughter’s specialty) and maybe a salad. I will make a dessert or two, just because I enjoy baking.
I had to check myself this year, as I almost crossed a line that I’m not sure I’m ready to cross yet. You see, I have a couple of book signings in Tennessee both Friday and Saturday this weekend, leaving me almost no time to prepare for the family and friends we’re expecting to celebrate with us on Sunday. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a good problem to have, but still…
I was in my local supermarket the other day, and I saw pre-colored eggs for sale. They weren’t the plastic ones you fill with surprises and hide; they were actual eggs someone else had dyed and packaged, probably last summer but I don’t know that for sure. I actually picked up a carton or two, then stopped myself.
The day I get too busy to dye Easter eggs is the day I’m way too busy. That vinegary smell and the hopelessly stained dog fur and little fingers that go with egg dyeing are all part of the experience. I can do without slaving in the kitchen; I won’t do without the family memories. Truth be told, I think I enjoy the activity more than the children ever did.