personal essay

How I’m Making the Best of It With a Scrappy Easter Picnic

updated May 11, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image

Since my mom and my mother-in-law call dibs on the annual Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations, Easter was the first major holiday I hosted. With the menus for Thanksgiving and Christmas solid in tradition, there’s always been more room for experimentation at Easter — so long as ham, potatoes, and a crisp green vegetable are somewhere on our plates.

It has always been a scrappy celebration with folded tables covered with white sheets and chairs from all over the house. The tables are set with freshly cut flowers in glass jars from Mom’s garden, pastel decor from baby showers past, and colorful platters of spring food.

The gatherings that started half a decade ago will look a little different this year. The crowd will be smaller — just my immediate family of four — but we’ll do our best to keep our traditions going.

Credit: Patty Catalano

What Our Easter Picnic Will Look Like This Year

This year, I wasn’t sure we’d set up even a small Easter celebration. But last week, my husband’s analytical accountant’s mind was the saving grace of our Easter meal. With grocery delivery slots filled and a commitment to consolidating shopping trips we didn’t plan to shop again until after Easter. So when he came home bearing a ham, a sack of potatoes, and a few bags of Easter candy, I was inspired to carry on our Easter picnic tradition.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Even though there’s just four of us partaking in our annual spring picnic this year, we’ll cook the ham nonetheless. It’ll go in the slow cooker to warm as the kids pick azalea blooms from our own back yard. A single blanket will provide enough seating for the party. And while I usually serve my dad’s favorite scalloped potatoes, I’m planning to make my favorite mashed potatoes instead.

With school cancelled, my daughter’s kindergarten class has moved from the classroom to my kitchen, and the lessons have changed too. She’s already a skilled helper in the kitchen, so I’ll put her in charge of the potatoes. First, counting and sorting potatoes, then measuring milk, and, of course, mashing. The green spring side will likely be scavenged from the freezer, either frozen green beans or green peas.

Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewcyzk

There won’t be any overflowing Easter baskets or even egg dying this year (eggs have been in short supply where I live), but we’ll try to add some magic, hiding a few plastic eggs on the stairway, under the mailbox, or along the driveway. It will have to do.