Throughout this pandemic, Andrew and I have been dutiful mask-wearing, social distancing, hand washers. We are just now fully vaccinated. What this means for us is we will not be white knuckling our way through dinner on Sunday afternoon with our 24-year-old daughter, Cecilia, her long-time boyfriend, Matt, and a small group of their friends who count us as family. We are not going to go bananas and pass around a communal cup, but I will not hold my breath every time someone gets within five feet of me, either. Our relationships with some of our daughter’s friends date back to when she was just out of nursery school. Others have been around at least since Cecilia was at Ben Franklin High School.

We love these people. They graduated together from Franklin in the spring of 2015 and scattered off to college. As we planned Christmas Eve dinner that year, Cecilia asked if she and Matt could invite some of their friends who were in town visiting their own families. The ensuing multi-cultural/inter-faith feast has become a treasured “tradition.” Without planning they all just started showing up whenever they are in town. We sit around the dining room table or a backyard fire and talk. Some play Andrew’s guitars. They sit around the fire long after Andrew and I toddle off to bed.

With COVID bearing down this past Christmas Eve, Andrew and I assumed dinner would be limited to the two of us with Cecilia, now an engineering grad student at Tulane, and Matt, now an engineer leading a start-up. I prepared for a cozy dinner.

The doorbell started ringing around 8:30 p.m. and by ones and in pairs they came, our extended “family” of Muslim, Jews, Christians, Others.  I will admit to being a little bit terrified (like being a little bit pregnant?) of these potential COVID-breathing dragons. I gave each of them that stupid, turn-your-head- away COVID hug, anyway. Like I said, we have been dutiful, COVID-aware members of society but this is where the line was drawn for us. We love these people.

Throughout this season of insecurity, I have shared many conversations with other relatively healthy middle-aged parents of young adults. Without exception, we have all implored of our children to adhere to COVID-safe protocols, then held our breath, hoped for the best, and hugged our young loved ones, anyway. Such has been our quietly shared quandary.

Speaking of inter-faith celebrations, Bywater Bakery is currently offering specialty menus for both Passover and Easter through Easter Sunday. As Bywater Bakery is known for, last Sunday the New Orleans Klezmer Allstars performed in celebration of Jewish musical traditions. This Sunday John Boutte and Oscar Rossignoli will be on hand for a free concert in the street, presumably performing music associated with Easter. Passover menu items include house-made Matzo, flourless chocolate cake, both traditional and blueberry macaroons, Matzo Crack, Lemon Squares, and Brownie Bombs. Easter items include Hot Cross buns, cheesecake-stuffed carrot cake, strawberry shortcake, Chantilly Bombs, petit fours, Linzer Cookies, and handmade Peeps. Place your orders here to go for on-site pick-up.

Matzo Crack At Bywater Bakery
Matzo Crack at Bywater Bakery

Whatever your plans this weekend—Easter, Passover, or just a Vaccination Celebration—use it to embrace this season of redemption and rebirth as we slowly rebuild our lives and our community. Do it with generosity and gratitude.