Every year of my life, I have eaten a delicious Sicilian cheesecake on Easter morning. It is made with ricotta and eggs and honey, and a little bit of cinnamon, baked in a graham cracker crust. It is delicious with strong coffee and I love it!
Once I became an adult, I learned to make my own cassatta (pronounced “kuh-satha”). I learned to leave it in the oven until the top was dry but not cracked, and to take it out while it was still creamy. I learned just how much crust to put in the pie plate, and I learned that it is best in a thicker pan. I have made Easter cassatta for at least 30 years. And this means, of course, that on every Easter of their lives, my children have also eaten this traditional family treat.
But this year everything will be different. I have decided to throw caution to the wind, embrace change and take a leap into the unknown. I’m going to try an updated version of cassatta, with a little cream cheese and a touch of orange flavor.
I know, this makes you smile, and it sounds like such a tiny little thing. But you don’t understand!
In my family, in my world, tradition is what keeps everybody feeling secure. Tradition is what lets us predict the day, relive the past and feel safe in the cocoon of the expected. Messing with tradition feels like thumbing my nose at everything I love.
I was ready, this Easter, to wake up in a house with no kids at home. I was ready to skip the egg coloring, the candy buying, the baskets. My kids are grown up. They are independent. We are embarking on our new relationship as adults. I am forcing myself to let go of those Mommy years!
So it was a pleasant but surprising turn of events when all three kids decided to come here to sleep on the night before Easter. Tim is coming home because he needs a little break from the academic and emotional pressures of his freshman year of college. Kate is coming because, frankly, she hates her dark little apartment. And Matt will be home because the other two are coming!
Maybe they are partly coming home because they, too, rely on the familiar traditions to feel secure. They did enjoy happy childhoods here, and I know that they like to remember those innocent memories. Maybe they want the plastic eggs, the jelly beans, and the usual Sicilian cassatta.
But this year is different. This is the year of my struggle to let go of the past and to find my stumbling way into the future. I have to make a statement! I must take a stand and announce that I am finally accepting the changes that have come to me.
This is the year that I add cream cheese and Grand Marnier. Let the outcry begin!