Easter morning has dawned grey and a little rainy this year. And as usual, this day is one for retrospection, even more so than Sunday mornings usually are for me. In my family, Easter was one of the big four family times; the other three being Thanksgiving, Christmas and the Fourth of July. These were the times that we all gathered after church for a big dinner full of happiness and sharing. Tables were spread for 30 or more brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles and we all sat around and filled up on good food. Thanksgiving and Christmas the main dish was always turkey, the Fourth of July it was hotdogs and hamburgers and ham for Easter. Year after year from as early as I could remember through my college years, these four poles of the calendar marked the passage of time.
When I hit my working years after college those big family events came to an end. Working in broadcasting with a schedule that was not nine to five and definitely not Monday through Friday, the holidays would as often as not find me behind a microphone playing tunes for everyone else as they drove to their family get-togethers. Even when I eventually transitioned to television and behind the scenes, I spent more holidays than not in control rooms, loading videotapes and films, pushing buttons on the switchers and audio boards, making sure that the shows reached the screens. Often, during quiet moments between station breaks, I would sit and wonder what my family was doing. When I got the opportunity, I would call long distance to connect, but it wasn’t the same as being there.
I could remember one of the “discussions” I had annually with one of my bosses was about Christmas and New Years. He made the decision that those of us who had children would work Christmas and those who did not would work New Years. That sounded like a pretty good idea, but he meant New Years Day. The rub was that I worked the prime time shift. Prime time in television was the evening shift. That is when the most skilled and senior engineers worked to minimize mistakes and enhance quality. So he always scheduled me on Christmas day and New Years Eve. So every year, I missed the core celebration times both of those holidays. As much as I liked this boss, he never got it.
Eventually as my career progressed, my job moved more to managerial work and less to the operational side and that freed me up to celebrate the holidays. We began to travel back home for a couple of the holidays, Thanksgiving and Christmas, to enjoy the family gatherings again. By that time, my siblings and cousins had married and began families of their own. This meant that there were new people to meet every gathering and some of my family would be at in-law gatherings and missing ours.
As my parent’s generation passed on, the family gatherings became much smaller. One of the biggest reasons was that the tradition switched to their immediate families so our big gathering became multiple smaller gatherings. During these years, I was traveling for work quite a bit and would be often leaving for some distant city up north or out west the day after the holiday and that precluded our traveling home.
So today, my siblings are gathering with a cousin or two for the Easter meal at my brother’s home on Black Creek in northern Florida. I spent some time on the phone with them this morning. Preparations are different now. Someone may bring a ham but hot dogs and hamburgers are going to be the main dish. It is all pot luck and a lot simpler. The tables are set up in the party area under the house which is on stilts because of the occasional flooding. It is a great party “room.” The sun is shining and the breeze is blowing. The outboard is all fueled up and a trip down the creek to the St. Johns River is in store.
Outside my window, as I sit here writing, I can see that the clouds have parted just a little and the sunshine is streaming down on the pollen covered cars in my driveway. The house is filled with the smell of a pork roast in the slow cooker. It is a nice quiet Easter Sunday at my house. Traditions have changed, but life is still good! Happy Easter Everyone! Oh MY!