Easter is this Sunday. We will host the holiday at our house, not because it is roomy or fancy, but because my mom always did all of the holidays when I was young and I swore I would give her a break and take them over. I love doing them here. I love to cook and I love when someone enjoys something that I have made. I love decorating the house excessively for whichever season we are celebrating. I do not love that I get extremely tense, super hyper and overly concerned with everything being perfect. One holiday, my family’s gift to me is going to be a ride in an ambulance and a long stay in a padded room.
Though it wasn’t really anybody’s fault or my intention, I grew up to be very different from my mom. She is a fancy lady, who enjoys the finer things in life. She has a beautiful home and decorates it to the hilt for every holiday. She is extremely neat and clean all the time, so much so that you do not want to touch anything in her house. She does a lot on her own, not because no one wants to help, but because if she doesn’t do it herself, it isn’t done correctly. Holidays were especially tense because the pressure for the day to be perfect was overwhelming.
Things that she thinks of as a necessity are frivolous to me. I am not fancy, I am very plain and simple when I am home with the kids. I don’t mind getting dirty and I certainly do not have as many house rules as my mom did. However, it was during the first Christmas that I hosted at our place that I realized I had inherited some of her traits. I felt it happen, I had turned into my mother.
The house had to be clean if company is coming. I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough time to clean the house and cook the meal and all the goodies, so I started three days before the holiday. Which meant with three kids, I cleaned three times a day, for three days straight. I became impatient and snappy. I buzzed around the house like a bee in a jar, throwing things out that were causing clutter, only to end up needing the item a few months later and tearing the house apart looking for it. I couldn’t let anyone help me because we just didn’t have the space. My kitchen is long and narrow. My in-laws tried to help, but there wasn’t enough room in there for me and two linebackers. I told them the best way to help is to go sit down and relax while I finished serving. Someone called me a bitch or something along those lines at that point.
The funniest part of the whole thing was my mom. She sat at the table, drinking her wine, chatting and laughing. She turned to me and said “Jen, you gotta relax. There is no rush, everything is wonderful and everyone is having a great time. Don’t get all wound up.”
Now I knew I was crazy. If the most tense perfectionist in the whole world is telling me, Jennie Go Lightly to relax, then I’ve got problems. I couldn’t help it. I wanted very much for dinner, the house, the wine, the dessert, everything to be perfect. No one said it had to be, I put all of the pressure on myself. I have done it every holiday since. I don’t know why, I try to talk myself off of the ledge for every occasion, but it ain’t happening. There is a genetic mutation somewhere in my body that makes me turn into an angry, cursing, short-tempered Julia Childs/Martha Stewart hybrid with a smaller house and nowhere near their financial success. By the end of the day, I usually haven’t eaten, my feet are burning from standing and the gin has hit me hard because of my empty stomach. I think my mom loves this and that it is one of her proudest moments.
Easter has always been a symbol of new beginnings, new life and fresh starts. While I know I will still be a hyper, bitchy mess on Easter, I will take a deep breath and welcome spring and new beginnings and count my blessings. Amongst those blessings, will be my mom, who made me an excellent cook and a cranky hostess. Buona Pasqua!