For most people, Christmas is the big holiday. Presents, family, food, you name it. For M1’s family, it has always been Easter.
My grandmother was very heavily Russian, and celebrated a lot of the traditions that her family passed onto her. She’s make up a nice basket of food to be blessed by the priest at the nearest Orthodox church, and then we’d go back to her home where we’d feast. This holiday was never about presents or the Easter Bunny (Thanks to M1, I never believed in anything more than the tooth fairy). This holiday was about family, and I loved it more than anything. Aunt Diane would bring five different flavors of kielbasa from Berwick, PA. I’d help Grandma make the garlic green beans, and M1 was in charge of the Hrudka (a Russian egg cheese). Grandma had made the Pascha for the basket, and there’d be the typical American foods of ham, mashed potatoes, and sweet potatoes. The most important food were what we all called, “Russian cookies”, but M1 recently told me they were called Koulaky (I called them by name to Aunt Bonnie and she was baffled by the name, stating, “Mom never called them that.”) The Koulakies came in walnut filling and pineapple filling. The adults used to get mad at me because I’d just eat the all the pineapple ones.
Easter was a time of forgiveness. After M1 threw me out of the house and I went to live with Dad, I forgave her just so I could come back for the Easter celebration. When M1 tried to kill me because I was “possessed by Satan”, I “forgave” her to come back for Easter (Forgave is a stretch because I’m still not entirely over it). If I could only have one holiday, it would have been Easter.
My grandmother died right before I turned 16. She had 9 children, but about 6 of them would always come gather at her house for Easter. After she passed, two of the children stayed home and the ones who did come…well, it wasn’t the same. It’s fallen off since then, with only the West Virginia clan really celebrating while the rest of us have had to conform to other versions of Easter.
This year, I’ve decided to make the cookies myself. I refuse to conform. M2 is trying her hardest to make sure that I don’t spend Easter alone, so I’ll go over there, but I’ll be having my own feast. I can’t make Hrudka because you need a tree and I live in the city, and the Pascha is a bit too out of my league right now, especially with less than a week left, but I am vowing to take this holiday back, even if it is slowly, and remake it into the something spectacular it once was.