When I think of Easter, my mind immediately flashes back to my not-so-fun times at Catholic School, my best friend Sarah’s birthday and how often her springtime birthday celebrations fell around Easter, and the hard boiled eggs that I would dye with my mom and brother. I remember egg hunts that we did when I was a child and how even one year for Sarah’s birthday, there was an Easter egg hunt themed party! Easter makes me think of spring and pastels, and the feel of warm air after a long, cold, winter. Each year was a surprise, because there weren’t any set traditions. If there’s one lasting tradition, it’s my family.
I feel fortunate to come from a pretty big family. My mom is one of five children, and I am one of nine grandkids on that side. On my dad’s side, I don’t have any first cousins, but many of my dad’s cousins and second cousins are like first cousins or aunts and uncles to me. When I think of growing up, however, I really think about my mom’s family, my grandparents included, and my dad’s sister, her husband, and my nanny (the rest of my dad’s family lives overseas).
I am so thankful for an abundance of holiday memories. The amazing spread that my mom’s family would have on Thanksgiving Day. The non traditional spaghetti we would eat the day after Thanksgiving with my dad’s family. The hand out system that we had for gifts on Christmas Day. It wasn’t a free-for-all, it was all very specific how things were handed out! The voice of the FIFA commentators being on in the background on Boxing Day while we opened presents. Hugging my grandma, grandpa, and nanny tightly on each holiday I spent with them. Looking back now and being so thankful that I did, because there came the time when with or without realizing it, I knew it would be the last holiday that I was spending with them. Reflecting back on those moments now and crying just thinking of how much that I love and miss them, and how I would give absolutely anything just to have one more non-traditional day after Thanksgiving eating spaghetti with my nanny. How I would give anything to hear my grandma’s laugh and see my grandpa’s smile as one of my cousins did something goofy to make them laugh.
While focusing on the older memories, I realized that some of the old have begun to blend with the new. One of my favorite memories was a few years ago, when I took my future husband, Ray, to Christmas with my mom’s side of the family for the first time. It was one of the last Christmas’ that we had with my grandparents. My grandpa had prepared what was essentially a sermon about the Christmas season, and then in the dead silence, my dad opened a beer can, my cousin made a comment, and the next thing I knew, half of us were giggling uncontrollably at the worst possible moment. It’s always the worst when you’re laughing and not supposed to be laughing. I’ll never forget how my dad, Ray and I were laughing so hard that we were crying. The following day, Ray celebrated his first Boxing Day with all of us. Nanny wasn’t there with us anymore, but I still always feel her with me on that day, just like I felt my grandparents with me this past Christmas, the first one that I spent without them. I had tears streaming down my face eating lunch, looking out at an amazing view with Ray in one of the most beautiful places in the world, and I realized suddenly that I was already beginning to make new traditions, and just because they weren’t there with me physically, didn’t mean they weren’t with me.
I will always feel some sort of longing for Sarah’s spring birthday in the suburb of Philadelphia anytime it is almost Easter. I will always think of dying hard boiled eggs with my mom and brother when I catch the scent of them after I’ve made them. I will always think of Boxing Days growing up anytime I hear a Premier League game that’s on TV. Christmas Day will always remind me of the times spent with my large, extended family. Holidays will be ever-changing throughout my life, but I feel grateful that each year that my family continues to grow. I believe that the realization of this will help shape how I celebrate holidays in the future and help me be okay with traditions changing, and new traditions being created.