The Last Time

Last Time

Easters used to be full of family, chocolates, food, stories, songs, and laughter, but they are different now.  I remember the drive into Brooklyn when I was little and my grandmother’s house full with cousins, aunts, and uncles.  When was the last time that happened?  I don’t remember it, I was too small, only about six years old.

I remember the holidays that followed those earliest ones, my brothers and sister together with our parents.  Going to church in the morning, opening our Easter baskets, coloring Easter eggs, my sister and I setting the table and helping my mom cook.  My dad sitting in the living room, munching on antipasto while watching baseball on the television.  During the day, all the old “Bible” stories played out on the TV screen as we watched Charlton Heston part the red sea.  But one day, that ended too.

I remember traveling into Queens with my new husband and eventually, our little girl.  Visiting his mother’s family, then walking next door to visit his father’s family.  Those days brought back the memories of my earliest holidays.  Like holidays at my own grandparents’ house had been, my husband’s family celebrated their holidays with houses full of relatives and tables that extended into the living room so that there would be a seat for everyone.  The pasta, sauce, sausage breads, and treats, specific to a certain holiday, filled the surface of the table and, eventually, our bellies.  My mother-in-law at the piano, playing her tunes from her old music books while everyone sang along.  The old stories told by his grandmother and uncles that filled my head with images of people and times long past.  Then one day, those holidays ended and his family, like mine so many years ago, started to drift away.

As my children grew, Easter was celebrated with baskets full of toys and candy, backyard hunts for plastic Easter eggs filled with goodies, and then dinner at either my mother’s house, my mother-in-law’s house, or at my own home.  Still, my husband’s uncles would come with their stories of “the old country” or “the war”.  They would tell my children their stories and we would make the food we were taught to make from tradition.  But even those days are gone now.

My grown children are in different places.  This will be the first holiday that I do not spend with my son.  He is in college and cannot travel with us to visit our daughter in New Orleans this year.  Easter dinner will be at a restaurant and the holiday will be filled with happy moments at raucous parades in the French Quarter and chances to meet her new friends.  Quite a change from the old days and I can’t stop myself from reminiscing back to the way it used to be.  It’s a shame that we don’t know when it is the last time we are going to celebrate a holiday the way we have become accustomed to.  That the people we love won’t be there next year.  That the traditions of the past will change to make way for new traditions to be created.  I am thankful for my memories, for the times I have shared with loved ones over the years.  But now it is time for the next change.

I wonder what changes will come after this?   Author of The Tin Box Trilogy

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