It’s Easter and I’m going to someone else’s house this year. I had several yummy options – one for a seder on Saturday night – but I was already booked with my niece and the symphony. And I had several for Sunday too. I chose dinner with my sweetie’s folks; his sis is doing the cooking and I’m contributing dessert and flowers.
I used to cook Easter dinner each year for sisters and friends who didn’t have other family they were committed to going to. You know holidays — if you’re married, with or without kids, there’s always some negotiation about whose family gets which holidays. But Easter would often find me on my own, so for a while, I had a tradition of making Easter dinner for single and unattached friends and relatives, while those with husbands and kids made new traditions.
Anyone who knows me knows that procrastinators call me “your majesty.” I am the queen. I will put off many things for as long as possible. Sometimes it’s because I’m worn out, sometimes work gets in the way, and sometimes I’m just lazy.
I’m always tempted to wait until the last possible moment to shop for a holiday meal. After all, you want to be sure that your veggies are fresh! I say to myself, If I get up really early on H-day, I can beat the crowds and still get everything done. Usually. One year I was working nine hours a day and commuting four hours a day, five days a week; I was exhausted by the time I got home. So I delayed just a wee bit too long to do my Easter grocery shopping. But I wasn’t concerned. I had carefully noted that Lucky Market was open Easter day, so I on Sunday morning I dashed out to go grocery shopping. There was a sign on the door, stating that it would be open Easter day – but it wasn’t. It was no consolation that many others stood outside the un-sliding doors looking as bewildered as I was. We finally drifted off; the other customers were, I’m sure, looking for the one item they hadn’t picked up the day before.
I, however, needed almost a complete dinner. I had acquired a few of the items on my list during the previous week, but the main item, the traditional Easter ham, was sorely missing from my refrigerator, as were dessert and many other essentials. I lived in suburbia; there were many available supermarkets. I drove from closed market to another closed market, each locked door making me more desperate. I had invited a mere six guests, but I’m fairly sure they were expecting to be fed.
I found a Mexican market open and picked up some sad but serviceable veggies, Marie Callendar’s yielded my traditional lemon meringue pie…but still no ham. Finally (just before I had made up my mind to drive to downtown LA (where something must be open for god’s sake) I drove by a liquor store. I ran in to purchase wine (enough wine and my pals will forgive the most egregious of faux pas) and lo! a canned ham. Tiny by any standards but my guest list was too. I bought it, dressed it up with pineapple purchased on my travels, dotted it with cloves as my mom had taught me and threw it on to bake.
That was the last year I baked a ham. My tradition the following year was grilled salmon, asparagus and scalloped potatoes. And it has stayed my Easter meal when I cook. Only now I call it my vernal equinox meal. And I’ve never, ever waited too long to shop since then. I am still known as the queen of Lucy Plans, and I still procrastinate, but some things are too Lucy even for me!