Two Meat Monte by Heather Curlee Novak
We are hosting Easter this year.
Usually my Mother-in-Love Monte hosts it at her house as she has a lot of space for entertaining. I piped up and volunteered to host this year at long last.
We have a tiny house. It is a 1920′s bungalow with about 1,400sf total. 132 sf of that is my 11x 12 dining room. Not big. Small. And if you get all Martha Stewart about it and want 24 inches for each person at your table the only way to make that work in my house is to knock down the walls and build an addition! But I am doing it. (Not the addition, the lotsa people in the little dining room.)
There are twelve people nose to tail that need to fit in that dining room, and I just landed a vintage table for 100 bucks including slightly awful chairs. With both leaves it will seat twelve in a very loving, intimate (OK crammed!) sort of way.
I am beyond thrilled to place so many folks at one table again. Entertaining is a great pleasure for me and I have missed my larger dining table from my single life. I even had to buy a longer white table cloth and twelve white napkins.
And I already started to recover those chairs…might even finish them by Sunday! I even created a marvelous Easter centerpiece I love for said table.
So that is ready.
That is all that is ready.
Because I still have to think about food. And how to please Two Meat Monte.
My husband and I have been married for five years and we are both blessed by loveably crazy in laws. My dad is John’s only parent in law from my side, and he stays overnight with us once a week. He is a beekeeper and sells honey and we are on his route so we get a weekly date night: fabulous. BUT my Dad is ever so likely to corner John as he is leaving for work. I mean travel mug in hand, bag on shoulder, front door open ready to leave for work. My Dad in his crazy pj pants and his geezer presentation will sidle up and cluelessly block the doorway as he tells an interesting but untimely tidbit of some moment in his day or week. John is sweet. He listens and smiles and nods. He responds. And then at last he leaves. For work. And Dad lets him.
My in laws are wonderful. I got parents, a sister, a brother and some awesome cousins for our girls. My Mother in Law, or Mother in LOVE as I say it, is so loving and accepting of my special brand of crazy I will never know how to thank her properly. She aches for me losing my own mother so young, and so she loves me like a mother. I ask her advice and share my vulnerabilities openly. She and I are very similar, and in good ways, so I think that helps. I love her, she loves me.
Even with a rock solid love relationship she is still, at times Mafia. And her Mafia name is Two Meat Monte. She has a heart so full and a desire to make life so much better at times it is overwhelming. She rarely comes for a visit without bringing food. Either Panera, or beautiful meals from her own kitchen. When I was pregnant and even fairly recently… she comes to our house and makes us dinner in my kitchen so I can do something else. She is awesome. Unless you tell her not to bring food. She still does.
And there is the small matter of a national holiday this weekend.
That I am hosting. I am cooking most of. I am decorating for.
I do not like ham unless it is Eggs Benedict and slathered with hollandaise sauce. I know it is an Easter tradition. Two Meat Monte knows it too. The Novaks serve ham.
I was thinking a leg of lamb my Dad makes for us. I do not like the idea of lamb, but it would be yummier to me in lieu of a big fat salty ham hunk on my table.
The Novaks serve ham. And polish sausage. I always opted to eat the sausage at Easter although I actually enjoy Monte’s ham. I do. But I forgot about it in the planning. She reminded me. I said I didn’t want to be Two Meat Monte and she leveled me with one unspoken word: TRADITION. “Oh.” she says, “We always have polish sausage with the ham for Easter.” Even though I am hosting. I want to cook and surprise and delight, but it is not how they do Easter.
I know they would indulge me. They would tolerate a slight deviation.
BUT I love them. I love Two Meat Monte.
I realized I do not have a family of tradition. My Dad is just as outside the box as I am. My Mom was fun crazy too. I have been raised by one parent or the other without much family sprinkled in there to create and carry out a lot of tradition. My husband and I have weaved what traditions I have (champagne for everything, opening a gift on Christmas Eve, eating movie theater popcorn immediately instead of waiting for the movie to start) and merged them with his beautifully traditional upbringing. We have created some traditions of our own too, just for our little family.
I love our big family celebrations. My Dad and his Love Kim come to everything. They are as welcome as I am and the entire family enjoys each other mightily. My life is enriched by the vibrant experience of my new, improved sense of family. Raising our two girls amidst all this love and stability and tradition is a beautiful thing.
And there will be a ham on my big Easter table in my small dining room. And Two Meat Monte? She is bringing the polish sausage.
What traditions do you enjoy, and which ones do you try to get rid of? If your family was mafia, what are their names?
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