The Easter That Almost Wasn’t
“You’re not going to have a nervous breakdown over a ham,” I said to myself as I stood in my kitchen alone, sweating on Easter Sunday. That particular year was interesting. My mother was in the hospital with a kidney stone and wasn’t going to be able to make Easter Dinner. The decision was made to skip having a meal with family that year, but the little ones in the immediate extension were disappointed by that.
I’m very comfortable in the kitchen and figured that surely I could fix an entire Easter Dinner on my own. “How hard could that be?” I thought to myself as I volunteered to do it. I would tackle a somewhat simplified menu. Just the basics that said “EASTER FOOD!” Ham, Mashed Potatoes, Mac and Cheese, Dinner Rolls, and a small salad. “I can do this in my sleep!” I said to myself.
What I couldn’t have understood was at that moment, a bemused bunny was hiding somewhere in the corner, laughing to itself while saying “foolish mortal.” There was a possibility that Mom might be released from the hospital in time for dinner, so that added a factor to things where I didn’t want to lock plans down too far ahead of time. So I began this process like I would any other, I googled for some recipes as if there is one thing about me I will always go a little overboard when it comes to entertaining.
There were things I didn’t factor into this adventure. The biggest one is time management. I didn’t think about how between all the running I was doing to keep up the slack for the family while my mother was down for the count, or the time I was spending going to the hospital three towns over to see her, and then back home. None of this occurred to me until it was time to start cooking and I was already exhausted, having a panic attack o’er a ham in a crock pot.
I had about a week to go between announcing I was saving the day by cooking Easter dinner and getting into all the prep work. Most of that week is a blur, all I can recall is going to the hospital, errands, repeat. On Good Friday I went to the grocery to do the shopping. This was a mistake as a lot of the best stuff was already picked over by smarter people who didn’t wait till two days before Easter to grocery shop.
The ham pickings were either too small or too big. I went with a small ham and thought I’d just have only one slice and leave the rest to the other family. I was only expecting about four other people besides me. My Dad, Aunt, and two younger cousins. The ones who were heartbroken over the possibility of not getting to search for eggs and eat lots of starches. Provisions required, I took my groceries home and sat down to make a timetable for what needed to be started and when.
You may be wondering at this point why, with this small number of expected guests, did I freak out near a crock pout on that fateful Easter Morning? Because things went a bit askew. That morning I began setting the rolls out to rise and started to get my prep bowls out to make things easy and simple. I was tired, to begin with as I had been at the hospital in the later part of the evening the night before.
The panic attack occurred right as I was feeling confident that everything was under control and should be ready for when the guests arrive at 1:00 that afternoon. Then a phone call came in from my Mother. It was to see how things were going and to tell me that word had gotten out I was cooking Easter dinner and other family adjunct people would be showing up. Sending the guest list from five, including myself, to a not welcomed eleven.
Thus began the panic. Stores were closed, food had begun, and the rocket had launched. I couldn’t stop and change the game plan. What was to be a simple “save the day” for the younglings turned into yours truly working himself to the bone to get Easter dinner done and served to more people than I expected. I barely got any food myself, and by the time everyone was left I was just happy to see people go.
The moral of the story is not to overwhelm yourself if you’re cooking this weekend, ask for help. If your parent is doing all or most of the cooking. Thank the hell out of them for it. They deserve it. Happy Easter to one and all. See you next week.