Easter weekend is fast approaching, and I, as usual, have not done anything to prepare for it. You could blame my procrastination on this. But I think what’s going on is, that my heart isn’t into it anymore.
My mum, was the entertainer of our family. She was the heart and soul of all the group. She loved having a house full of family, friends and good food.
Some of my fondest memories as a child, were those days and nights spent in the kitchen preparing for parties with mum. My mum was the world’s best baker. I can say that – because she was my mum. And nothing quite beats your mother’s baking.
When you walked into the house during the holidays, your nose was met with the most amazing blend of aromas. It could bring tears to your eyes and make your mouth water instantly.
I’m reminded Christmas when she made her famous rum pudding. She would hand wash all the raisins and lie them out on the baking sheets to dry.
Mum’s pies were absolutely legendary. They were made from the heart and often, she would bake a pie for each of us. Or at least let us choose our three favorite ones. Bumble-berry was the most popular pie while my Lemon Meringue was my jam. I was thrilled when I found meringue flavoured pudding at Safeway one year. It quickly became my favorite snack when I had a craving for sweetness.
At Christmas time or Easter weekend, our house would be filled with delicious treats. Mince pies, pink meringues, Christmas logs, English Trifles, cherry cakes and cupcakes, lemon tarts – you name it. Mum made it. As I’m writing this, I’m starting to crave something a little sweet.
Walking into the kitchen at Christmas time was like walking into a British bakery. My mouth is watering now as I look for pictures that even closely resemble mum’s legendary baking.
Our family doesn’t really celebrate things like Easter and Thanksgiving together anymore since we sold our family home. We will be getting together on the weekend for a different occasion. But I, as usual will be on my own Sunday night. I’ve stocked my fridge with healthy food – there is a wedding coming up next month and I need to fit into my new dress. I stocked up on turkey and all the trimmings. Even though it’s precooked – at least it’s turkey. Boxed stuffing cooked with bacon will have to suffice. But nothing beats mum’s mushroom and gravy stuffing. Nothing at all could top that recipe.
Being the single one, I miss out on family gatherings. Each of the families do their own thing now on holidays. Even my younger sister usually goes for dinner to her in-laws. I’m not resentful. I swear, I’m not.
Being single is MY choice and mine alone. I do not regret it. But I have to admit, that even I can get a little down during these holidays.
I must repeat this mantra over and over again to convince myself.
You’re fine. You’re great. Life gets too complicated when you date. But damn, holidays can sometimes suck.
My dad isn’t very mobile these days, so if he is home, I will often make up a plate and go visit him. Last year, I made us a small but lovely dinner for just the two us. It felt so incredibly sad and lonely. But he didn’t fuss – even when I pulled out the store bought pie for dessert. He was just happy to have company. I am hoping this year that he is up to going to my sister’s for dinner. Visiting with the kids sure perks him up. Especially when the babies are around.
Although I will not be celebrating Easter this weekend like we did with my mum, I will be thinking of her. I will be at the church playing that organ, loud and proud. I love the Easter hymns we sing. And the church is always full to the brim on Easter Sunday. There is also a solemn and somber service on Friday morning which tends to have a smaller turn out.
So, it’s not like I won’t get out to see people.
I do get down a little at Easter though. It sure isn’t the same without mum. I miss those times we shared in the kitchen. I remember standing on the stepping stool or chair to see what she was doing.
Mum always had the music playing in the background and would sing along to classic crooners like Bing Crosby or Perry Como. Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra were favorites in our house. Mum loved to croon along. We also listened to a lot of Elvis, The Beatles and The Beach Boys – and female artists like Connie Francis and Vera Lynn.
I have vivid memories of mum belting out, “Hey Mambo, something something something, Hey Mambo! Italiano!” while handing me a spatula covered in delicious chocolate icing. No wonder I have a sweet tooth now. Yum. Chocolate icing.
Mum was terrible with lyrics. And she sang off key. But she didn’t care. If we weren’t listening to music, we were watching Oprah on the tele. (In case you haven’t noticed – mum was British with a hint of Irish ancestry.)
But with my volunteer gig at the church, I am reminded again and again of this.
Family doesn’t always have to be related to you by blood. For me, a lot of my family is what I call an extended family. The people from church have become family to me. And so while I won’t get that luxurious turkey dinner that mum was infamous for, I will be surrounded by people that I love.
And at times like Easter weekend, isn’t that all that matters?