In the lead up to hosting Easter dinner we scrambled to get ready. There is nothing like the spectre of a houseful of guests to force one to get cracking on long-delayed to-do lists.
Because our house is only about eleven hundred square feet the challenge was finding room for about twenty-one and three?quarter people. (My niece’s baby Brooklyn and our toddler Kade account for the fractions!) The wet snow and cooler forecast meant no one would spill outside onto the patio.
I did think the men might gravitate to the garage, if only to check out the new build. At least, that’s how I convinced Roy to (for the love of God) finish adding the plate covers to the electrical outlets and switches, close up the breaker box, install the two outdoor motion detector lights, and wire in the outdoor receptacles. He also needed to sweep out the sand and grit carried in by wet winter tires. He’s the one who insisted on a checker plate rubber mat for under the cars. That’s gonna sweep up like a dream. Not.
It’s taken him as many days to do that as it’s taken me to decide on a menu. Oi. I burned up the internet getting recipes for braised red cabbage, baked asparagus, glazed carrots, and slow cooker roast beef. Add in spiral ham with glaze, nachinka (a Ukrainian cornmeal dish), and all the potluck contributions: two salads, potatoes, holubtsi (cabbage rolls), paska (Easter bread), and dessert and we’ll have a feast.
I’m anal and paranoid, a rather unfortunate combination, in a hostess. I worry that everything won’t be done on time (1 PM) as though world peace hangs in the balance if we eat at 1:10 or 1:22. I worry I’ll run out of cooktop and oven space. I eliminated recipes if their required temperatures didn’t work with each other. Because of all that I start waaay too soon. I peel, dice, slice, measure out ingredients, then put food to cook too early. Then I wonder how I’ll keep dishes warm until the last guests arrive. It’s nerve wracking.
Besides food prep, I’m responsible for most of the cleaning too. I hate the last-minute Sunday morning stuff like toilet cleaning. In order to give most people a seat and a table we’re rounding up TV trays, stacking stools, adding leaves to the table, and resurrecting the thirty-year-old kid’s chrome set.
My favourite part is the decorating, picking out linens, napkins, serving dishes, flowers, setting up the liquor, making up Easter treat bags. And as much as this was a lot of work and worry and I wonder why I suggested doing it, it was good. It’s just too bad I didn’t enjoy it. I don’t think the hostess ever does. Too busy seeing to the comfort of others. But I’d hate to be one of those who never reciprocates, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.