Traditions

We started a tradition this year of going out for brunch with my husband’s family. They have a small family – just his parents and his brother & girlfriend. It seems customary in The Netherlands to eat a brunch buffet at a hotel restaurant. We met everyone at a nice hotel nestled in a posh neighborhood of multi-million euro homes. Here, this means that you have a four to five bedroom house with a yard bigger than a postage stamp and your own driveway.

Picking out E’s outfit – a polka dot dress with white tights and green headband – took me back to my family’s Easters all those years ago. We went various places over the years and celebrated it in many ways, but I always initially think about when I was around eight years old.

I remember my huge plastic yellow Easter basket brimming with fake green grass and all my favorite candies – especially the  popcorn bunny and a Reese’s peanut butter egg. We would wake up ridiculously early, run downstairs to see what the Easter Bunny had left for us (he left our baskets next to the fireplace just like Santa did our stockings), zealously search the room for more hidden pieces of individually wrapped Hershey’s miniatures, and gorge ourselves on chocolate for as long as our parents would allow. The rest of the morning, not surprisingly, was a blur. At some point, my older sister, twin sister and I would begrudgingly wiggle ourselves into pairs of tights, coordinating dresses and flats.

Oddly, my most vivid memory is of brown water glasses and tortellini with orangish brown meat sauce. Along with foil wrapped pats of butter and tasteless slices of white bread, that is what I remember of our Easter dinner. Our family of five would pile into our blue Chevy minivan and drive what felt like hours through the most boring Midwest countryside to meet my father’s parents at a family restaurant. It was Eye-talian as my father calls it which, in Central IL, means pasta and fried chicken. The restaurant was dark – poorly lit with dark veneer panelling and tables decorated with burnt orange glass votives.

The meal, pre-electronic gadgets, was agonizingly boring. We covered our paper placemats in countless games of hangman and tic-tac-toe and suffered through meltdowns as we came down off that morning’s sugar high. We’d finally finish and run outside only to be blinded by the sun bouncing off the concrete sidewalk and, oftentimes, remnants of snow. Diving onto the back bench of the van, we’d kick off our shoes and pick fights with each other before finally passing out – my twin and I drapped across each other in a tangle of limbs. Aaah…the good ol’ days!

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