, Port Arthur, Texas


April 4, 2013

Togetherness means overdoing it

— Do you hear that? It’s the sound of silence. The last of our family members have headed back home. The kitchen is clean and beds are stripped. It’s quiet as a tomb around here. This is the first time I have sat down in three days. Easter weekend is over and I’m exhausted.

It’s always this way. Easter is the only holiday we consistently stay home to celebrate. Instead of making things easy for me and my loved ones, I load us up. The first holiday in our new house, Momma and Daddy came to visit. We hadn’t gotten around to hanging the curtains yet and as soon as my parents got settled in the guest room, Momma suggested we do something about that.

We ran down to Hancock Fabrics. Our plan, crazy as it sounds, was to cut the fabric out on Friday night, sew the drapes on Saturday afternoon and hang them later that evening. All of this with three children under the age of 7 in the house, an elaborate meal to shop for and cook and Easter baskets to fill.

But hey, no problem, let’s make a few curtains.

Momma got me psyched up about a style that called for very little sewing. “We don’t even have to hem them,” she said in that convincing tone. “We’ll just puddle the fabric on the floor.”

“Puddle” has never sounded like a good thing before, but if Momma says it, it must be so. The clerk at the store was less convinced. I will never forget the look on his face when Momma started “guesstimating” our wall measurements. I let her do the talking. After all, she had made curtains for every room in her house. This would only be my second effort with my new Kenmore sewing machine. As the salesman stretched and cut yard after yard of polished cotton, I had second, even third thoughts. Maybe we should just go home and dye eggs.

But Momma was right. It didn’t take that long to turn raw material into window coverings. Truth be told, they also didn’t look that great when we finished. It didn’t matter. We were already on to the next project: filling Easter baskets.

There is an unwritten rule at our house. Everybody gets a basket no matter how old or young. Filling Daddy’s basket proved to be especially gratifying that year. He died of a stroke a few months later. I treasure the video showing him and our three kids searching high and low for baskets. “You’re getting warm, Papaw.” The kids had never seen their 72-year-old grandfather get that excited about anything before. He didn’t even change out of his pajamas before combing the premises for his basket of chocolate bunnies.

Daddy lives in Heaven now, but Momma still comes for Easter weekend. And we’re still cramming way too much into her visit. This year we baked two turkeys, a cake, and a green bean casserole. Because there was no room in the oven, a skillet full of mozzarella-covered brussel sprouts was grilled on the BBQ pit. All of that happened before Mass on Sunday morning. At one point, there were six of us sidestepping each other in the kitchen. I had my six month pregnant daughter-in-law and 89-year -old mother working like pack mules to get food on the holiday table? What is wrong with me?

In our family, we aren’t happy unless we are working. Then we complain because we’re exhausted. As I thought back to the homemade icing Momma whipped up for our Easter cake, I felt guilty for a minute or two. Then I remembered she taught me everything I know about the art of overdoing. “An idle mind is a devil’s workshop”. If she said that once, she said it a million times.

By this time next year, we’ll have a grandchild. Our hands will be full with the happy task of caring for him. Note to self: no curtains, no cake. Today I will call and say thank you to all family members who contributed to our jam-packed Easter weekend. I will follow that with a well-intended promise. Next year, we’ll put all our eggs into one basket: the baby.

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