We gather together for holidays
The secular observance of Easter is always an upbeat occasion for me, and it’s especially so now that there are scads of little grandchildren underfoot.
I don’t get to spend as much time with them as I’d like, but we do make a point of seeing our families face to face on the major holidays.
I’m writing this on Good Friday, the day before we pack up the goodies we’ve lately amassed and head for lovely, bucolic Argyle, the one in Washington County, where some of my offspring have settled and are raising their families.
I’m not sure we’ve ever talked about it, but my assumption is they chose to live in the country because they view it as more conducive to raising a family than an urban setting.
Argyle — named after Argyll in the Grampian Mountains region of Scotland — is an interesting little community that is home to many Scottish-American families who are descendants of the original settlers. The school’s sports teams are known as the Scots.
It’s also home to farms, artisanal cheesemakers and other cottage industries and , for a time, was the location of a few catheter factories.
There’s a little village of the same name where, at least in one respect, it’s still the 1920s. That’s right, prohibition is on the books in the village of Argyle.
That’s how the Stewart’s store in the center of the village is different from all other Stewarts stores. You can’t buy a 12-pack there.
Occasionally someone thinks it would be a good idea if they modernized, and they have another vote, but the result is always the same.
On the off chance that the ban had been dropped when I wasn’t looking, I called Stewarts and asked a clerk if they were still not selling beer. The helpful guy, thinking I was thirsty, assured me I could find beer just a short distance in either direction out of town.
Oddly, one of my daughters had the same misimpression. I sent her an email asking if Argyle was still “dry” and she replied that it was and then added, “Don’t worry. We have wine.”
Easter Sunday will find us in Fairfield, Conn., spending the day with wife Beverly’s family.
There are little kids there, too, a grandnephew and grandniece, among a friendly pack of robust Hungarians who greet each other with “Boldog Húsvéti Ünnepeket” (happy Easter), eat kolbasz (smoked sausage), kalács (Easter bread), sarga turo (Easter cheese made right here in the Stockade) and drink a wine called Bull’s Blood. How can you not love such a joyous celebration?
At all the places we visit for the holidays, there are colored eggs in hiding and baskets full of little amusements and confections.
We work really hard at making memorable the goodies we deliver, and we include very little candy in the mix because we don’t like the little darlings to get all sugared up — not while we’re around.
This year, some of them are getting bubbles. Not the little jugs of bubbles that they once poured into our fountain to transform our backyard garden into a sudsy wonderland, but bigger, more substantial bubblemakers. We think it will inspire them in creative ways, and no, it’s not about revenge. We just want them to have some fun at home.
In most cases, we include books among our gifts which we realize are not at the top of every child’s wish list, but here’s the thing. We don’t care.
If kids are to become lifetime readers, you’ve got to get them early.
I’m not saying we give them textbooks. We carefully select books that we think will amuse or engage them.
Sometimes they’re simply activity books — with pictures to color, stickers to stick and word puzzles to solve.
On other occasions, we give them simple musical instruments — like pan flutes or little drums, tambourines or keyboards. We want them to learn to love music and the making of music because that’s also important and, again, you’ve got to get them while they’re young.
Their parents always seem so pleased with such gifts. You can tell that by the way they thank us. “Oh,” they’ll say, “and we REALLY want to thank you for the drums.”
We find that very gratifying and, sometimes in the car driving home, we just laugh and laugh.
Irv Dean is the Gazette’s city editor. Reach him by email to email@example.com.