I like feasts like Mothers Day, because I get a chance to spend time with my extended family in a relaxed way. I like parties that focus on a person or a theme. They have a warmth and ease that regular get-togethers sometimes lack. If people have had a rough week, their trials can sometimes become the focus of the discussion and that can lead to awkwardness.
There was none of that today, though. We were celebrating the three mothers in our family: my grandmother Helen, my aunt Dawn and my mother Savitsa.
It was a day of food, bright sun and gentle conversation. We chatted about many things, while the NBA game between the Cavaliers and the Celtics played mutely on the plasma in the background. Every so often, we’d take a second and admire a particularly deft move that one of the players had done, or marvel at someone’s shoesize: “His shoes are bigger than the Toronto Sun when it’s opened up!” one of my cousin’s mentioned, and everyone laughed. It was warm and light hearted and peaceful. The sun had that wonderful gauzy golden hue that seems to come when a sunny day follows a rainy one.
The food was wonderful too: my mother made her special pâté en croûte, and sautéed spicy chicken strips. There were trays of veg too – bells of every colour, celery, mushrooms and broccoli and cucumbers. I supplied a version of my mango-lime-ginger dip that people loved. It’s creamy and greeny and fresh, with just a hint of tartness and a little heat from the ginger. I had my favourite beer, King Dark, which is actually brewed right here, in my hometown of King Township.
People stayed for a couple of hours, talked politics and culture and swapped stories from work – then they drove off into the late afternoon light and we spent the next hour cleaning up. I often get a peaceful feeling during the clean-up after a party. The conversations are still simmering in my mind, and echoes of peoples’ laughter and commentary are still bouncing around the instead of my head. I perform the manual tasks of walking back and forth from the living room to the kitchen, wash dishes or watch mutely as my father washes them, waiting for him to pass me a dish to dry with the blue and white checkered terry cloth I am holding. We’re always quiet together after a party, because there isn’t much to say and everyone’s thinking, letting the conversation sink in.
My grandmother was very happy because she’s home now, although she is still very, very ill. Her diabetes means that she can’t eat much sugar, but she could resist one piece of carrot-almond cake. I was worried that it up her sugar level and it probably did, but as she said to me defiantly: “It was worth it, Sacha!” And smiled ruefully, because she knows that a moment’s sweet pleasure may be paid for through a rough night. But sometimes you do just want that wedge of carrot cake, don’t you?
Now I’m going to take a walk around the block, and then settle in for an evening of my favourite lemon green tea beside a small crackling fire, editing a couple of more chapters of the second edition of my textbook.