Our family gathers at my aunt and uncle's for Easter Sunday Dinner.......we get there around 4:00 and have cocktails and marvelous hors'deouvres like terrific cheeses and thinly sliced Soprassata salami served with lavash bread, herbed olives, a red caviar/lemon dip you spread on little strips of pita bread, grape leaves stuffed with rice and onions (sometimes, Mom brings her fantastic grape leaves), an Armenian thinly sliced garlic beef and string cheese, etc.etc....we never know what my aunt might prepare, but we always know they'll be wonderful things that all of us enjoy with our glass of red or white wine. We love gathering at the beautiful home nestled in the hills of Bel Air, on the patio or in the den, some people chatting one on one in the living room, the older kids playing pool in the upstairs den, etc., my aunt checking on the dinner and some of us hanging out with her there to talk.........it's a great time for us all to be together and that 'together' is usually about 25 relatives and, sometimes, friends of my aunt and uncle's, or one of our friends who's got nowhere to go and is graciously welcomed there.
My aunt has a lovely home and makes the absolute most of it with incredible holiday decorations. She's got hutches in the kitchen and shelves and ledges throughout the house laden decoratively with rabbits and baskets and flowers...all shades of yellows, oranges, pinks, blues, white ..... The dining room table will be set with hollow painted eggs on tiny stands, some of which my mother painted for her years ago...some with family names on them, etc. Sometimes, she sets a buffet in there and we eat on the outside tables under an overhang overlooking the pool, other times, she has twelve of the adults around that big dining table which is set with lovely linens and glistening silver, the less older adults around the large wooden kitchen table, and the kids somewhere else..... Tulips, hydrangeas and roses and gerbera daisies will be everywhere...Easter at their home is a treat for the eyes and the mouth!
I'm not sure what my aunt will make this year for dinner but I always try to bring something to help out. This year, I'm bringing Easter cookies I ordered...they're shaped like eggs and iced with gorgeous pastel colors, I hope they all like them!
This year, my aunt might be cooking ham or my uncle might barbecue lamb chops...I don't know what she's serving this Sunday, but it'll be very good (and I'll report!). She makes a delicious ambrosia and always makes a corn dish for my uncle....there might be tomatoes with mozzarella and basil, or a special recipe for green beans or maybe she'll roast spring vegetables or have cold asparagus...maybe a potato gratin or a rice dish...or all of the above! Always delicious, always something to look forward to.
An old Armenian custom some of you might do, too, is the BREAKING OF THE EGGS! My aunt will have boiled tons of eggs and colored them (they'll be used as decoration before dinner, too...in gorgeous big baskets tied with satin ribbons), some will have our names on them and we'll all take ours....and, then the fun begins. WHO HAS THE HARDEST SHELLED EGG? We go up to others and take that hard boiled egg in our fist and the opponent does the same and we tap the end of our egg on theirs...whichever doesn't crack goes on to the next opponent. It's kind of fun. One year, one wasn't boiled, boy was that a mess, but adds to family memories!
But, more important and definitely felt, on top of the chocolate Easter eggs and rabbits, and tulips and hydrangeas and baskets and ribbons and bows, will be the meaning of Easter....as my uncle prays before dinner, all of us standing together holding hands....
This is a home that loves food and family but loves the Lord more than all of that. And we feel it. And so, whether it's ham or lamb or potatoes or rice, Easter cookies or lemon tarts for dessert......we all know that's not the important thing. It's not about the food (did I say THAT? :-), it's about the resurrection of Christ and His gift of salvation.
Easter Sunday at my aunt and uncle's is like a piece of candy, come to think of it....food and family are the the chocolate layer wrapped around a rich, delicious center of God's provenance and love. I'm a lucky niece. I wish the same to you all.
And I know my whole family would wish you a very HAPPY EASTER! Do you have a special Easter menu or family tradition? Please share it with us...