“Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi” “Christmas with your family, Easter with your friends”

So how are you spending your first holiday in Los Angeles?” my mother inquired happily, relieved that I haven’t forgotten about her since moving from the east coast.
“Um, going to a beer fest”, I replied cautiously.
“Is that how they spend Easter there?”  my mother exclaimed, trying to hide her disappointment.
“That’s how we’re spending it this year, mom.”
I come from a family that is religious, traditional, and Polish. Easter, in my family, is a holy occasion that calls for your best dress, a pristine basket of food to be blessed at church, a special Easter brunch, followed by more church.

I am going to be spending Easter Sunday recovering from LA Beer Fest, my dinner coming from a food truck: tacos from Border Grill and cupcakes, replacing the traditional cheese babka, from Sugar Babies, most likely.

I’ll pause for judgement to pass.

No doubt that any holiday is largely centered around the food and the company, however traditional or not it may be. I will be in the company of my loving boyfriend, his good friend from San Jose, and thousands of joyous, beer imbibing strangers.

I remember fondly one Easter that was spent in the backyard with my “restaurant family” (those who have ever worked in a restaurant know the special bond that exists between employees). Images of mallets being used inappropriately (I’m not talking about technique here) and birdies flying into our faces as we attempted to play games with a cup of the coveted “resurrection punch” in our hands. I don’t remember if I had gone to church that Easter or who brought the best dish, but I will never forget the fun that was had running around with our silly oversized bonnets covered in ribbons and bows, and feeling grateful for having a reason that brought us all together on that sunny afternoon.

A long standing Russian tradition which I was recently introduced to at our dear friend’s annual “Easter Family Feaster”

(and wish I knew of sooner), includes doing a shot of chilled vodka followed by a cracker with caviar, sour cream and chopped onion. This, along with the incredible spread of traditional Russian food replaced his and his wife’s previous way of celebrating Easter when their 3 year old adopted Russian daughter entered their lives. In an effort to preserve her roots and celebrate a most joyous occasion, they have invited friends, family and neighbors for an elaborate get together, honoring their daughter, and sharing their happiness with everyone year after year.

Among the many heartwarming (and tear-jerking on my part) gifts we were given as we departed our home in Virginia was a colorful easter egg shaped canister. Its contents: a small container of caviar, neatly wrapped crackers, two mini bottles of grey goose, and the invitation to toast each other onEaster along with our friends and family back home, so that old traditions can live on in new places.

Considering our week long drive across country, we celebrated our first stop of the trip in Nashville with a toast to our journey and what lies ahead, as well as what we left behind.

 Regardless of how you plan on spending your present and future holidays, may you drink well, eat well, celebrate in good company, and be grateful for what you have. In the spirit of the Italian saying, here’s to old friends, new friends, and friends that feel like family. Cheers!