Easter Sunday at Granny’s: A Derrico Tradition
Easter has always been an important tradition in my family; it has always revolved around Granny’s house. The tradition started before Asher and I were around, when my dad and all his buds were younger. Not much has changed through the years except the addition and loss of a few people. It’s a staple of Derrico family gatherings and is one of my favorites.
I was the second to arrive at Granny’s this year, moments behind Uncle Mike’s new girlfriend in her Beetle, Gloria Maria, or as I call her, Glori. This was my first chance to meet her so I was excited. The “bachelor syndrome” has affected our family in a few keys places, Michael included. I greeted her as she ran over to give me a big, Latin American hug. I was dumbfounded as I didn’t think she knew me. Glori went on about how much Granny and Uncle Mike talk about me and Asher. She exclaimed how excited she was to meet us and the rest of the family. I climbed up Granny’s old stairs following Glori into the kitchen where I found Granny waiting. “Hellooo!” she beckoned as I walked over to give her a hug. She was preparing all the snacks for the day: black olives, cheese-stuffed, green olives, pimiento cheese, Slovenian sausages, rich cheeses, deviled eggs, prosciutto and more. Glori, Granny, and I shuffled to the sun room as we continued the conversation about Glori’s life. We were all waiting for Uncle Mike to hop out of the shower and join us. After a few minutes, I decided I’d say hey to Uncle Mike later and excused myself to deal with the reason I came early.
Ever since I was young, I always wanted to drive Granny’s Mercedes in Avondale Estates’ Easter antique car parade. The parade is full of beautiful, antique cars spanning the last millennium. When I was a kid, I would ride in the back like JFK, throwing candy to onlookers as Granny drove. As I aged closer to earning my drivers license, my desire to drive that car increased. I’m the only one in my immediate family that likes it. My dad thinks it’s a piece of crap (which it kind of is), Asher likes trucks, and mom couldn’t care less. When I finally got my license, I was it’s new driver. Ever since, I come early to take the car out, inspect it, wipe it off, and drive it in the parade. As I was servicing the car, Asher pulled up.
Asher came equipped with our mothers Porsche. For her 50th birthday, our father purchased it for our mother. He got the idea from Grandpa Matt, who bought the Mercedes for Granny’s 50th birthday.
Soon after Asher arrived, Glori, Michael, and Granny all came outside to join us. Asher went to meet Glori as I walked over to greet Uncle Mike. Asher and Glori conversed about cars, talking about how Porsche’s were modeled after Beetle’s. In perfect fashion, my parents arrived. They went to meet Glori as Asher shuffled away. It was time for us to take the cars to the parade lineup. We said goodbye to everyone then departed for the shopping center down the street.
Copious oldies filled the parking spots while ample old people filled the cars. Asher and I parked our two cars, hopped out, then started exploring the time capsule that was among us. Fast back Chargers, Model T’s, El Dorado’s, El Caminos, Thunderbirds, Thunderbirds and more Thunderbirds surrounded us. I walked around with Asher talking about cars, and reminiscing on the many times before that we had been here. Similar to the old car fanatics at the parade, Asher and I have our own, different, love for vehicles. We love to go off-roading, so we talked about our most recent expeditions. Not long after we arrived, my parents, my dad’s best friend Larry and his daughter, Abby, appeared. I talked with my mom as Abby immediately ran for Asher. Abby is going to be a Yellow Jacket over at Tech with my brother, Asher. In our family, they aren’t the first generation to go. We are a split household. My mom and I are both UGA; Asher, my dad and all his friends are Tech. The Derrico family extends to all of my dad’s best friends from high school, who all went to Tech together. Larry and Mark are two that joined us today.
The police sirens soon wailed and we knew the parade would shortly be underway. Asher and I hopped in the cars and joined the convoy. We made it through three streets before the route looped back to Granny’s house where everyone was. Asher and I cruised right in front of Granny’s house when unfortunate events, but lucky timing took place. Of course, the air cooled Porsche couldn’t handle the crawling parade speeds and decided to stall. Abby ran over from the family and hopped in my car while Asher tried to start the Porsche. Not long after it stalled, the police car trailing the parade started yelling at Abby and I to book it, so we ditched Asher and drove off. We made it to the roundabout a few more streets down before deciding to bail from the parade and go hangout with family.
When we returned, I was informed by Mark that the family’s favorite tradition was about to begin. Mark had arrived with his girlfriend, Susan, during the parade. Croquet, a lawn game of mallets, wickets, and balls, is the quintessence of family competition. The adults had setup the course while we drove in the parade and I was pumped to redeem myself. The last game we played was at Thanksgiving. I lost the lead at the last moment in a tragic turn of events.
Croquet is a simple game. The course is composed of 7 points, each point consisting of a wire wicket. The points are arranged to represent a figure eight. There are two far ends with totems that are the top and bottom of the figure eight. The goal of the game is to hit one’s ball through each wicket, following the pattern of the figure eight. It’s a leisurely game that brings the family together while providing grounds for competition. Our family has added one special rule to the game: one can only use the mallet with one hand, and must have a drink in the other.
I started first and was off to a hot start. I was two wickets ahead of everyone but soon my lead decreased. I overshot a wicket and needed to return to the other side if I was to have a chance. I ended up losing my place as Mark and Larry surpassed me for the lead.
I soon fell far behind as everyone, but Abby, made it to the halfway totem before me.
I decided to go kamikaze and try to oust Asher who had gained the lead. I required precise, strategic, play as each hit became increasingly precious the closer Asher came to winning.
I managed to launch his ball far from the totem, thinking it would be enough to prevent his win. I was wrong as he came back and won within two turns.
After the game, we all headed inside. Everyone conversed while snacking in the kitchen as Granny finished setting up the feast. She soon announced supper was ready and we were off. Everyone swarmed the table, piling our plates, like gluttons, with the troves of delicious meats and dishes.
I wandered as I ate my meal, talking with the different adults in each room I traversed. Eventually, I found myself sitting in the sun room with Glori and Granny. Glori told me about her life growing up in Puerto Rico, about her children, and about her schooling. We bonded over having too much work to do on Easter Sunday, and how we just wanted to sleep after the meal. I finished my plate, said farewell, and went off to see what everyone else was up to.
I walked past the kitchen into Granny’s little television ally-like room and stumbled upon Asher laying down. He was fighting off a food coma as our mother tried to make conversation with him. Asher’s picture perfectly describes the satisfaction we all felt. I eventually made my way to Granny’s outside patio where I ran into dad, Larry, Susan, and Abby.
Right after I decided I wasn’t moving for the rest of the day, Granny called out for me. I forced myself to get up out of the somehow incredibly comfy folding chair and wandered inside in search of her. She had brought out one of her favorite desserts, potitza. This dish consists of dough rolled up with walnuts and honey. Granny had told me that it was a favorite old Slovenian treat of hers.
After desert I decided that, sadly, I had to depart shortly. I made my rounds back through the house saying my farewells and gifting hugs. I had such a wonderful day and didn’t want to have to drive back to Athens but was left with little choice.
Before my last goodbye, I gathered everyone together into the sun room for one last picture, one that truly embodies what a Derrico family gathering is truly about. Our family is not defined by blood but by the relations we have with each other. Blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb. I am beyond thankful for the family I was blessed with as they are responsible for the person I am today.