Happy Easter...

The task of figuring out how to spend our holidays so that Justin and I can be together and still accommodate the wishes of our respective families is very much a work in progress, and I imagine it will be for years to come. It is an extremely complicated proposition for the holidays for which my family has traditionally traveled, since my parents solved the holiday conundrum by dividing their time and spending Thanksgiving with Dad's family and Christmas with Mom's. That was all fine and dandy until Justin came into the picture, and dividing our time either means I go a year at a time without seeing one half of my family, or he has to cope with the disappointment and guilt of missing a holiday with his family. So far, we're managing the best we can.

That's what make holidays like Easter seem like a joy by comparison. My family doesn't normally travel, and since our parents live relatively close to each other, we can fit in visits to both sides with ease. Today, for instance, we started our day with brunch at the Drake with my parents. The past couple years we stuck to the suburbs for brunch, dining at the Chicago Botanic Gardens, which made it even easier to stop by and visit Justin's parents in the burbs as well. Last year, however, we were less impressed with the quality of the food, so we decided to take a chance on the Drake.

As one might expect based on the Drake's longstanding reputation for elegance and luxury, the hotel brunch was considerably pricier than that at the Botanic Garden, but I think it was worth it (though admittedly, I wasn't the one paying for it). The food was definitely better, with a very nice sushi and Asian dumpling station, a breakfast station that included waffles, omlettes, and eggs benedict cooked to order, as well as well-balanced carving and seafood stations. Though immense in scale, I was not impressed with the quality of the dessert offerings, but then again, I am a very discerning judge.

The setting, however, was beyond spectacular. I felt like I had stepped back into the Gilded Age, and the level of service seemed to harken back to a more genteel era as well. Plus, the Drake had a professional photographer on hand to take family pictures (at an added cost), and we got a great image of our little family that may just be the first family photo to make it into a frame at my parents' house since I was in middle school.

After a brief stop at home to change, we headed north to Justin's parents' home, where they were hosting a much larger gathering than I had anticipated when I planned on making my apple cake, which serves about nine people. They had invited Justin's grandma, his maternal aunt, uncle, and some of their family, and Justin's paternal uncle and cousin. I really didn't need to worry about not having enough dessert, however, since Justin's mom also picked up an enormous carrot cake from Costco, his grandma made a jelly roll, and his uncle's sister brought a lamb-shaped cake. We were practically inundated with cake.

Justin's mom and sister Lizzie prepared a lovely meal, and it was nice to have the chance to spend time with so much of his family all at the same. Plus, Justin's uncle's sister brought along her giant, friendly Great Dane mix, who kept everyone entertained with her antics. 

Even though we had to do a lot of driving and we probably overate between the two meals, it was a great holiday, and we are very lucky to have such great families in our lives. Happy Easter everyone!

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