Renee Winick mug

Renee Winick

This past weekend I did something I haven’t done in a long time. After a couple of years off, I felt like I was starting from scratch and had to relearn so many important skills. It took a lot of preparation and it wasn’t easy, but I made it through it just fine. In fact, I actually enjoyed myself!

You’ve probably already guessed it, but I am proud to say that I survived the daunting task of hosting an extended family holiday gathering – twice!

Like most people, our family took a break from big gatherings when Covid-19 hit. Since things started opening up over the past year or so, we’ve been to a number of family get-togethers. This past weekend, however, was the first time we’ve invited bigger groups to our home. We hosted my family’s Easter celebration on Saturday and my husband’s family came over on Sunday.

Let me start off by saying that I love my family very much and being able to have them come to our home again is an absolute thrill. However, like most things in life, there is always a give and take. To get to the pleasure of enjoying time with family, we needed to work through a bit of “pain.”

Again, let me be clear, I don’t consider spending time with family a pain. It’s more that I’m out of practice and apparently had forgotten all it takes to get myself, my family, and my home ready for such festivities.

For example, I was straightening the basement when I noticed a smudge on the wall. What started out as me simply wiping the smudge progressed quickly to me scrubbing every mark on every wall until I had worn three Magic Erasers to shreds. It finally ended with my husband struggling to talk me out of repainting the entire basement. I forgot that I get like that.

One of the best parts of any gathering is all of the amazing food that’s shared. We are quite fortunate that both families are very generous and brought lots of food. That meant that we weren’t responsible for the entire menu.

The only issue we faced was making sure that there was enough room in our refrigerator for all of that food. Thankfully, my husband and kids are team players and not against eating leftovers; so, our fridge was sparkling clean by the time our family and all of that yummy food arrived.

Another fun part of holiday gatherings are the activities that we enjoy each year.

The traditional Easter egg hunt can be lots of fun for the entire family. When it’s chilly outside, the hunt happens inside and that actually works just fine. What doesn’t work so well is when not all of the eggs are found. The egg hiders must then become the egg hunters. We were forced to rely solely on our memories to find the lost eggs.

Those of you of a certain age can guess how that turned out. We hid 42 eggs. 19 eggs were found. 15 were later recovered. We finally decided to call off the search for “The Missing Eight.” We figured when/if we find them, the candy inside can be added to the Halloween stash. Yet another reason why I’m happy we don’t hide real eggs.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss one of my favorite parts of the holidays, whether I’m having people over or not – decorating.

The issue is that, when I am hosting, I feel a compulsion to continually add to my holiday décor. Over the past few weeks, I found myself making excuses to go to Target just so I could look for another cute figurine, grab fresh holiday towels, or peruse their supply of Easter lilies. Heaven forbid that one of our shelves be left without a splash of pastel or the front door be garnished with last year’s wreath. If wanting my home to scream, “Happy Easter!” is wrong, I guess I don’t want to be right.

Hosting family for a holiday gathering is an honor, a privilege and, at times, a hassle. I absolutely love having my family over and it’d been far too long since I was given the chance. To be honest, I treasure every part of the process, even the things that I’ve listed as an issue, hassle or pain.

That’s because it brings me back to where I always want to be – with those I love, celebrating a day that means so much to all of us. I hope your celebrations brought you love, joy, family, food and all the bright, shiny smiles that only the greatest sacrifices can bring.

Renee Winick has lived in Prior Lake for nearly two decades, where she resides with her husband and twin son and daughter.