Easter morning breakfast has been a life long tradition in my family. We have never had a large family, just my parents and two sisters, but there used to be an aunt and uncle and cousins, not that they all would come for breakfast on Easter, but we never had a problem filling the chairs at the table. We didn't need the relatives to have a table full though, as my older sister would bring her boyfriend and her two kids. My younger sister would bring her husband, and I would bring my girlfriend of the time. My mother always had some lonely, older, widowed friend from the neighborhood who she would invite, we called them "Mom's old cronies".
As time went by, people started disappearing from the table. First, my cousins all moved out of state, and later, my aunt and uncle passed away. My niece met a guy on the internet and moved to Ohio. My older sister broke up with her boyfriend, I broke up with my girlfriend, and my nephew found his first one. Then my father passed away, my mother ran out of cronies (they all died), my nephew broke up with his girlfriend, and my older sister took her mule, dogs and cats, and moved to Colorado. This Easter we were able to fill 6 chairs at the table thanks to my nephew recently finding a new girlfriend.
Now this may seem a little odd to most of you, but before Easter breakfast, we have an Easter egg hunt in the back yard - it's part of the tradition. Long ago I told Mom we were getting too old to be playing this kids game, but she's a stickler for tradition and enjoys watching us making fools of ourselves so we continue doing it for her sake. It used to be Dad's job to hide the eggs in the yard that we had dyed the night before, another tradition that goes back to when my sisters and I were just kids, now Mom dyes the eggs the night before and hides them before anyone arrives.
There was another tradition we had when I lived at home and we all dyed eggs together. My sisters would compete to see who could make the prettiest single or dual-colored eggs but not me. No, my mission was to make the most God-awful ugliest egg in the basket. Well, I always did like being different and doing things a little differently from the others. I suppose that was natural with me being the only boy with two sisters. I'd dip that egg in a variety of conflicting colors until it was an ugly dark shade, and if that didn't do it, I'd go for some spray paint from the garage to give it that perfect esthetic touch. There was to be no question as to which egg in the basket was MY egg.
My Dad was quite a breakfast cook. Since Mom and the kids always went to church on Sunday morning, Dad would make a big breakfast with bacon or ham and eggs, with fried potatoes and biscuits while we were gone. He continued doing that even after my sisters and I grew up and moved away, and Mom started going to church on Saturday evening instead of Sunday morning.
Dad made the best biscuits in town and was proud of them, of course he made them from scratch. The always turned out just right, crunchy on the outside and soft, moist, and very tasty on the inside. He always made them for holiday breakfasts with the family and always received complements on them. He liked to say that if we didn't complement his biscuits, we wouldn't be invited back the next time. He would never reveal the secret for making his biscuits.
One day not too many years ago, when he knew he didn't have a lot of time left, I asked him for his biscuit recipe one day when we were out picking up something up for the house. He listed about 5 ingredients which I had forgotten by the time we returned to the house. Not long after that, I asked him again and all he said was "I just follow the directions on the Bisquick box". Could it really be that simple? I didn't have much experience with it but I knew the responsibility for holiday biscuits would soon fall on me so I better learn. It wasn't that simple. Dad passed away in September of 2000 and I've been working on it ever since, each time getting a little better than before. By this Easter morning I thought I had it figured out and could make a good batch in the morning to take to Mom's house.
Now I am not a "morning person" and it takes a few cups of coffee before my brain starts to kick in. I had been up late the night before and got up late on Easter morning so I didn't have the luxury of engaging my brain before attempting the biscuit job. I couldn't find one of the ingredients in the cupboard, and the dough didn't have the proper moisture content so they didn't rise properly in the oven. There wasn't time to give it another try so I took the little rocks with me to Mom's house, giving me the 10 minute drive to figure out an excuse for them.
We were going to reheat them in the oven at Mom's, but my sister, Sally, insisted on putting them in the microwave with damp paper towels when I explained that they were a little short on moisture. I told her no, "that will make them chewy, not crisp", but she insisted. I said "fine, do what you want" rather than argue about it. I knew they were ruined anyway. So at breakfast not only were they soft on the outside and dry on the inside, but chewy as well. I called them "briquettes" and Sally called them "hockey pucks". I'll try to make them better next time, the secret is still safe with Dad.
But that was only part of it, it was time for the Easter egg hunt. We found 10 out of 12 eggs and of course Mom had no idea where she had hidden the other two. That's about par for the course, it happens every year but usually there is only one unfound egg. We just say that one is for Frank, the gardener. But this year, Mom had a little problem with the egg dye, and non of it took to the eggs except the pink ones. The rest were just white eggs with some small stains on them. I have to confess that it did make them easier to find in the yard. I usually find only one or two but this year I got 5, while my sister, who usually finds half of them, found only 2. The rest were found by my nephew, Mike, and his girlfriend, Robin. She never mentioned what she thought of the egg hunt.
Most of us had fried eggs with breakfast but Sally's husband, Andy, elected to have hard boiled Easter eggs with his. That's when we found there was another problem. Mom didn't boil them long enough and they weren't cooked. They weren't even soft boiled inside. I'm not sure she boiled them at all. Now you have to understand that my Mom is nearly 88 years old, healthy as a horse, and a wonderful and loving little old lady, but her memory is not working as well as it used to. It's a possibility that she did boil the water but forgot to put the eggs in it. We didn't think they could be re-cooked so the whole bunch was thrown out. Too bad, I was looking forward to having some hard boiled eggs to snack on this week and maybe a devilled egg sandwich. Of course I could make them myself, but I won't.
I had never met my nephew's new girlfriend before but Mom and sister Sally had, so of course I knew nothing about her. While waiting on Mother and sister to get breakfast ready in the kitchen, the other four of us sat in the living room. I struck up a conversation with my brother-in-law, Andy, which of course got into current affairs and specifically, the illegal immigration of Mexicans into our country and what should be done about it. We continued more of the conversation at the table while we ate. I noticed Mom making some "hush like" gestures at me but she does that sometimes in restaurants too. In spite of my influence, she still suffers from a little "political correctness" but I didn't see why that should apply at the family dinner table. After Mike and Robin left, Mom informed me that Robin's mom is an illegal alien from Mexico.
Whether it's breakfast or dinner, I always stick around a while after everyone else leaves to help close up the table and place the chairs in the dining room and any other tasks she may need done. Mom had asked me to fix her new vacuum, she thought it had thrown the belt like the old one did from time to time. When I took the vacuum out of the den closet and turned it over, a pile of dust fell out of it onto the carpet so I decided to take it outside on the lanai to work on it. It was there that I believe I solved a mystery that has been going on for years - why can we never find all 12 eggs.
My parents always had a dog or two while we were growing up but then they started doing a lot of traveling after Dad retired and didn't want to be tied down with a pet. Now that Dad is gone, Mom is a little lonely but still doesn't want to be tied down with a pet but that didn't stop her from having her little animal friends around. She has made friends with the Blue Jays in the neighborhood and has them eating peanuts right out of her hand. If she's not outside, they will come to the glass door or kitchen window and knock on the glass to get her attention. If the door is open, they will come right into the house and perch on the back of the couch or even go right into the kitchen if that's where Mom is.
She also has a squirrel now who has befriended her for peanuts as well. When Mom is sitting on the lanai reading a book, this squirrel Mom has named "Charlie Brown" will hop right up into her lap and demand peanuts. Of course he's been a menace with the avocado tree too with trying bites from a variety of avocados, looking for a ripe one. While working on the vacuum, I happened to notice Charlie Brown looking around the plants where the Easter eggs had been hidden. It later occurred to me just what he was doing there and also, that this is likely what has happened to the missing eggs in previous years before we had our hunt. Now an "Easter Bunny" is one thing, but an "Easter Squirrel" is quite another and seems to serve just the opposite function.
It wasn't the vacuum belt as I found at first inspection, but it had no suction. On further examination I found that in addition to the bag, it also has two filters that were completely clogged. I cleaned them and showed them to Mom who never knew they were there and never cleaned them. I also found that the machine had the wrong bag in it. I told her about that too but she insisted that it was the right one and the only kind she ever used in it. She said they only have two kinds at the grocery store and that's the only one that fits. It fit the portal but didn't fit the enclosure without being crumpled up and cutting off the air flow. I found the documentation on the vacuum and read where it called for a type "Y" bag, not a type "A" bag like the one she had. She said she would look for one the next time she goes to the store.
With Mom's failing memory, I had some doubts that she would remember what bag she needed by the time she got to the store. She's at that point in her life now that when she goes into a room in the house, she often forgets what she went in there for. She looses things. She tells me that there is a little old lady in her house that hides things from her. At least she hasn't lost her sense of humor. I wanted her to remember which bag she needed for the vacuum so I told her when she gets to the store, just ask yourself "Y do I need vacuum bags?" She said "Y would I forget?" I told her "that's Y your vacuum doesn't work". We went around a few times like that and now I think She'll remember to get the right bags, if she remembers to get bags at all. Maybe she'll remember at the checkout stand when they hand her the groceries in paper bags.
I hope you had a great Easter day.
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