A Socially Distant Easter With My Italian American Family

Instead of a table filled edge to edge with family, it was video calls, warm conversation and takeout.

By: Felicia LaLomia, ISDA Contributing Editor 

Easter weekend this year was different.

I think that goes without saying. Everything for basically the entire world has been different since this pandemic hit. Work, meals, shopping, socializing — everything revolves around social distancing. 

But this weekend was the first holiday where we were forced to go it alone. Despite its difficulties, here’s how my Easter went.

The night before

My parents celebrated their Easter dinner on Saturday at their home in upstate New York. Lamb, potato salad and broccoli salad. I got the FaceTime update on all the delicious grilled food I would be missing. The tradition in my family is lamb, always (no one really likes ham). The lamb is marinated and then grilled, a recipe from my grandma. My mom makes her famous German potato salad, sweet, a little sour, and very colorful. Alongside is the broccoli salad, just as colorful and tasty.

An Easter afternoon Zoom call with my entire family

And when I say entire, I mean entire. 23 people, all Italian, all talking over one another, forgetting to mute. It was lovely chaos, and honestly not terribly different from when we actually get together. We began by going around in a “circle” and updating the folks about what our new lives are like. Between the cries of children, the barks of dogs, and the grunts of uncles, we made it through and got a little insight to what each person’s life now looks like.

Fried chicken and biscuits

It’s not traditional, and it’s certainly not Italian. But my boyfriend, Anthony, and I didn’t have our normal Easter ingredients in Long Island. We had no lamb, no potatoes, no vegetables, but we just weren’t ready to head to the grocery store yet. So we decided to order out. Because I gave up meat for Lent, I was really craving it, but in particular, I was craving fried chicken. Having thrown just about every other tradition to the wind, we thought, “what the heck?”

Dinner through a window

We knew we couldn’t really get together and have dinner with family, so we did the next best thing — we took our chicken to Anthony’s family’s backyard. From about 15 feet away where they ate their traditional Easter meal of roasted lamb, potato gratin, crostini, and pie to finish, we sat enjoying our crispy, greasy fried chicken, biscuits slathered in butter and honey, and kale slaw. Through a barely cracked window, we chatted in between bites about our new normals. For us, it was a treat. We hadn’t seen another soul in over a week and to still be able to spend Easter with family, no matter how strange, was still a blessing.

At home, with chocolate lava cake.

On the way home, we drove by a few other family members’ houses, waving from the car as they smiled through the window. We got home near dark, but we still were craving dessert. Anthony threw together a chocolate lava cake. It was rich, dark and decadent. It’s ooey-gooey interior made a mess of the plate, but we still managed to finish it.

Easter this year was like no other. Who knows how long this will last, if Easter will be the only holiday we will have to spend like this or if this will be the normal for much longer. But I find great comfort knowing that my family and I will always make an effort to see one another, even if it is through a window or a computer screen. And it will certainly be a story for the grandkids.


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