In my family, holidays are a big deal. I’ve written about this before, detailing the extraordinary lengths my grandparents and later my parents, sister, aunt, and cousins go to to set a beautiful table filled with delicious food. As we have always lived in an apartment, we haven’t really been in a position to host any holidays, and I always kind of wished we could. (I suspect no one in my family has been too heartbroken about this, as I’m not really known for my organizational or homemaking skills, plus, my cats keep sending them to the hospital.) But while we do still live in an apartment, it’s now a very nice one with space and a pretty kitchen and lots of countertops and places to lock cats and their sharp, angry teeth away and room to sit down.
So I thought this year, Hey, you know what? You should offer to host Easter! You have room! People don’t hate coming over anymore, especially if the cats aren’t allowed in the room. Even you can’t fuck up a ham! (I started drinking wine in the past few months. Thus far, all of my brilliant ideas have come after a couple glasses of Walgreen’s finest Pinot Grigio.) So when my mom brought it up, I tentatively said, “Well, I thought maybe I could do it? Since we have space?” I suspect she was surprised, but gamely said, “Sure! If you want to do it, that’s fine!”
Yay! I’m hosting! Look at me, all grown up style! Wahoo! I shall make baby girl Violet a beautiful Easter basket and we’ll have an Easter egg hunt and she will love it and everyone will talk for years about how fun Easter was that year and she’ll always remember how Auntie Coco hid eggs with candy in them for her.I told Tony and Tony, and was met with just a bit of resistance in the form of, “WHAT? Where the hell are we going to put everyone?” Whatever. They’re pessimists. I got this. I told my sister, who responded with a “Heh. Okay! Have fun!” Again, whatever. I’ll be FINE. I emailed my friend Autumn the next day at work to tell her, and she responded with, “OMG! Can I please come and bring popcorn to see how this goes?!”
I faltered a bit here. Autumn is my champion. She’s my cheerleader. If she was questioning my abilities, I may just have bitten off more than I can chew. Oh well, too late now – I have lists to make and hams to buy! Except, hmm, I have no idea what kind of ham to buy or, now that I think about it, whether my Puerto Rican grocery store even carries ham. Moving on.
T Minus Two Weeks:
Phone calls with my mother. “Okay, you need to plan a menu, and we’ll bring a table and chairs, and you need a tablecloth, and do you have enough plates and cups and silverware?” “Um.well, I thought ham? And yeah, I for sure have enough plates and stuff.” (SHIT! Mental note, go buy all new plates, silverware, and glassware.) Mom, “Okay, I have little dessert plates and pastel napkins. I’ll bring you a roasting pan, table, chairs, plates, napkins, and I’ll bring a vegetable and appetizer. And I’ll send you a recipe for a glaze.” Me, “Sounds good! Did I tell you I’m going to do Easter eggs for baby girl?!” Do you see a theme here? I am awesome at ideas, poor at execution.
T Minus One Week:
Tables, chairs, roasting pan, Easter baskets, dessert plates, and napkins have been delivered. Me, Oh, well, this is great! Realistically, all I need to do is buy the ham – SHIT find out if Cermak has ham – and get the Easter eggs for the fun hunt!
Tony, “Hey, my parents are coming too!” Okay! More the merrier! What a fun party we will host!
Phone call with mother, “Okay, well, you’re going to need more food. I’ll get some fried chicken too. Did you get a tablecloth? Did you get a ham? Did you tell your sister what to bring? You’re going to lock the cats up, right? What about dessert? Do you have brown sugar and whiskey for the glaze?” Me. No, no, yes, I don’t know, no, and I’m drinking the whiskey. “I got rolls?” “Okay. You realize Easter is over a week away, right? Bread won’t keep that long.” Me. “Duh. I put them in the freezer. I’m not stupid.” (This is where I suspect my mother began drinking.)
T Minus Six Days:
My mother in law, Sharon, sends my brother in law with a new kitchen table and chairs that seats five. (Because ours only sat two. Hey, when you move four times in four years, shit breaks.) My sister in law also sent him with sturdy plastic plates, silverware, and servingware. Score! Sharon also comes with two Easter tablecloths, a myriad of Easter napkins and an Easter bunny placemat for Violet. So really, all I need are the Easter eggs for the hunt. Dammit! And the ham.
T Minus Five Days:
“Hey, mom? So I’m at the store and I know you said get the biggest ham, but I just realized I have no point of reference here. What’s a big ham? Three pounds? Twenty two pounds? Should the bone be in?”
Hmm. I wonder if my grandma ever had to carry a ten pound ham home in her purse?
T Minus Four Days:
“Okay, Court, so I’m bringing the chicken, a vegetable, a cheese platter, stuff for mimosas – do you have champagne glasses? – and another appetizer. What else do you need?” Me, “Oh, I’m all good! I think we’re ready! Didn’t you see, I posted the picture of the ham on Facebook??” Still have no glaze, glasses, Easter eggs, candy, or ingredients for potatoes. But that’s nothing!
T Minus Three Days:
Tony, “Can we have corn? So I can eat something?” Sure! Let me just put that on my list that I haven’t written out because it’s all up in my head. “Okay, well you have to work tomorrow, so me and Tony Marzilli will clean and go grocery shopping and we’ll be all ready by the time you get home, and then all we’ll have to do is make the potatoes and set up the tables on Sunday. We’re good!”
T Minus Two Days:
I should probably get on this shopping list. I still need to get Easter eggs for the big hunt! Oh, and glasses. I know! I’ll head to the busiest Target on Earth at State St. at four pm on Good Friday. It’ll probably be empty. Spend the next two hours growling at tourists, aggressively pushing my cart through the Easter aisle, buying two bottles of wine, an Easter bunny because seriously I am not spending fifteen dollars on a basket, twelve fillable Easter eggs, candy, and rationalize that small plastic glasses are totally acceptable for Easter dinner. Go home and drink one of the bottles of wine, because really? There’s nothing left to do.
T Minus One Day:
OMG GET UP GET UP WE HAVE SO MUCH TO DO AND WE NEED TO GO SHOPPING AND FILL THE EGGS AND WASH THE CARPET AND SET OUT THE NAPKINS AND CLEAN EVERYTHING IN THIS HOUSE AND I NEED NEW CANDLES AND WE NEED BEER AND ICE AND THE BACK PORCH IS A MESS AND I FORGOT TO GET MY SISTER’S BIKE FIXED AND I NEVER ASKED JOSE ABOUT PARKING PASSES AND I DON’T THINK WE HAVE ENOUGH GLASSES AND WE NEED A HUNDRED ROLLS OF PAPER TOWELS AND TOILET PAPER BECAUSE CARLY AND BOB WOULD NEVER RUN OUT AND ASK THEIR GUESTS TO USE THEIR NAPKINS, NO MATTER HOW FESTIVE AND HOLIDAY APPROPRIATE THEY ARE.
Two hours, a hundred dollars, and a very grumpy Tony Marzilli later, we’re ready to begin cleaning. Approximately thirty minutes later, Tony Drobick walks in the door after a full eight hour day, quite dismayed to find me scrubbing the vents with a toothbrush on the floor and Tony Marzilli covered in bleach, yelling, “I swear to God, if I see an Easter bunny I’m punching it square in the mouth.” I throw paper towels and windex at him, saying, “Here. You don’t have to do anything. Just dust the entertainment center, wipe off all of the books and everything in it, sweep the floor, and take out the garbage.” He complies – seriously, once I hit this level of crazy there’s no reasoning – muttering, “Have Easter, they said. It will be fun, they said,” whilst rolling his eyes. Finish all the cleaning, and my beaming, “Hey, look, we’re all ready!” exclamation is met with hostile stares.
Okay! All we have to do is set up the tables and stuff the Easter eggs, and then it’s time to cook!
Hmm. This tablecloth is really big for this table. Let me just tape it up with the flourescent green duct tape. That’ll work, right?
WHO THE FUCK SEALS PLASTIC, FILLABLE EASTER EGGS WITH TAPE?! Terrorists, that’s who. The next forty minutes are spent stabbing at them with scissors, swearing at each other and sneaking far too many M & M’s.
Okay, let’s hide these eggs! (Brief yet extraordinarily heated argument questioning the timing of cleaning out the fish tank.)
Another, increasingly hostile argument regarding my festive idea of putting colorful napkins on the bathroom sink for guests to wipe their hands on. Physical struggle ensues as Tony Marzilli wants to fold up actual hand towels instead. Culminates in me yelling, “I DON’T LIKE THE TOWELS THEY DON’T LOOK PRETTY PUT THE FUCKING NAPKINS IN THE GODDAMN EASTER BASKET!!”
I should probably have a glass of wine.
No, Courtney, no one wants to stick their hands in salt cellars, I don’t care if they were your grandma’s. I passive-aggressively leave them on the duct taped covered table anyhow.
OMG START PEELING THE POTATOES THEY’RE GOING TO BE HERE IN AN HOUR.
My family shows up, complete with carrots, crackers and cheese, an antipasto platter, a seven layer salad, champagne glasses, two bottles of champagne and a bottle of wine because they know I get my wine from the drugstore, orange juice, an Easter basket for the baby full of chalk, a gift for my new nephew, and a bag full of toys.
My glaze is not thickening as the Pioneer Woman had promised.
Violet is pointedly disinterested in her Easter egg hunt and is much more interested in the fish.
My oven grates are upside down, apparently.
An hour later, my in laws show up with Tony straight from work, also carrying another chair, a leaf for the table, two pies, and a gift for Violet.
You know what? We had a great time. I didn’t drop the ham, the cats didn’t escape and attack anyone, the baby had way too much candy and enjoyed bossing the boys around, and everyone liked my potatoes. My mom took a picture of my napkins in the bathroom to send to my aunt Sheila, who is basically Martha Stewart, so it was pretty much the highest of praise. My cousin showed up around dessert, and we finished the night watching old home movies – during which I was mercilessly mocked, I might add – happy for a great end to a fun day. Everyone ate, we laughed, we drank, we enjoyed our company and I looked around and felt very grateful for this family of mine.
Everyone praised me for doing a great job hosting my first holiday. This is my thank you to all of the people that basically did it for me.