Easter comes at a difficult time of the semester, just as my classes are finishing up and I'm facing all kinds of deadlines. "It's not actually a holiday," a colleague pointed out. "We don't get any time off."
It's true. Whereas we get an entire month off for Christmas, Easter is just part of a normal weekend. That means I don't have any extra time for little niceties like cleaning the house. My husband's April work schedule is even worse than mine, and all of our kids are on the same academic schedule that I am. So on Saturday, when I counted up the family members who would be coming to Easter dinner -- somewhere between 20 and 24, I figured -- and calculated how much time I would be spending making food, the harsh reality hit me: there was no way we could clean the house in time.
"We should have started cleaning last weekend," I announced to my husband.
He shrugged. "Let's just see what we can get done now."
But I had a better plan. I sent him off to the grocery store with a list. And by the time he returned, I was deep into my secret plan. He came into the house, carrying bags of food, and looked at me in disbelief.
"You're ironing cloth napkins?" he asked.
"Yep," I said. It was a foolproof plan. Thanks to youtube, even someone like me can become an expert on folding cloth napkins into fancy shapes. At Christmas time, Boy-in-Black found a way to fold our red napkins into Christmas tree shapes, and my extended family was so impressed with them that they talked of nothing else. All I had to do was fold some napkins into pretty shapes, and my family members would never notice the rest of the house. They are easily distracted.
And yes, the plan worked. My husband set up the folding tables, we covered them with white tablecloths, and I added the fancy napkins. I made a bunch of food, other family members brought food, and everyone exclaimed how festive the house was. Fancy napkins. It's all you need.