It was good. There was ham and scalloped potatoes, brussel sprouts fried in butter and sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese, roasted sweet potatoes, pretty spring peas and two kinds of pie. And, of course, a chocolate Easter bunny I have already devoured (I ate his ass for a mid-morning snack today).
I had a pot of my Grandma's African violets in the centre of the table and I set each place with packets of seeds for every person (all of whom I love very much). I had my Dad's favourite music playing the whole time (Palestrina, an Italian Renaissance composer he adores for the sacred polyphony he wrote) and I had two white candles burning brightly.
As daylight turned to dusk we sat and laughed and ate. And I was happy.
And then I wasn't.
They left, and the emptiness of another holiday settled in.
My poor Beloved, who deals with the aftermath of holidays (and the beforemath as well), chastised me for taking something good and turning it sour, but it's hard not to. And I don't do it on purpose despite evidence to the contrary.
It's just that holidays are meant to be joyous family times, and it's sometimes hard to maintain that joy for the entire length and breadth of a holiday when our little family has been hacked to pieces and lies in tatters around our weary feet. Figuratively, of course.
It's hard to sit by myself at Mass with throngs of families packing in all around me. It's hard to be visually reminded of what we've had and lost, and almost had and lost. It's hard to be shown what I'm missing.
The sad fact is that sometimes it's difficult to be happy, no matter how hard I try.
And I do. I really do. Why else would I put so much effort into Easter dinner, or any of the other things I do to make our little world happier and more alive?
I think I do well most of the time. I have sad moments, but I push on in search of comfort and joy. But holidays undo a lot of the work I put into soothing my soul. I enjoy most parts of them very much, but what I'm not enjoying is killing me. Those are the holiday extremes.
It's just the way it is for now.
And, I suspect, the way it always will be, although tempered and softened with time. As everything always is.