In my day (I have, indeed, reached A Great Age, so am entitled to comment thus) one came of age at twenty-one. There was that song everyone sang on the Big Day:
“I’ve got the key of the door
Never been twenty-one before!”
substitute “eighteen” for twenty-one. It’s not the same, is it? I mean, it doesn’t even scan and in my book scanning is more important than rhyming. It’s why most of my “pomes” don’t rhyme, even though they always,
but always, scan. Well, mostly. Though I do remember the Eldest of the Darling Daughters, reading the poem I composed to mark her birth, remarking that she hadn’t realised my opus was a poem...
Be that as it may, Jack our eldest grandson is twenty-one today and, despite the fact that he officially came of age three years ago, we are all intent on marking the occasion as Extra Special. None more so than his sister
(known to you by my long-time nickname for her - for absolutely no sensible reason - as Hazel Bagel) who has compiled a scrapbook of photos and messages from all his family and friends, describing his place in their lives and affections. What a Super Sister
I can recall the wintry morning, sitting at my desk in the office, when the telephone call came through from the Youngest of the Darling Daughters: “Well,
I’ve been induced!” she announced, cheerily, as matter of fact as if she were informing me that she was in Tescos (other supermarkets are also open - though maybe check on Christmas Day?) buying mince pies. It was totally unexpected, as the new
arrival was not due until the middle of January.
Jack was born, a tiny but wholly delightful scrappit, in the middle of a snow storm. Mr B warned we might not
be able to get to see him till the snow cleared: “But we must! We must!” I despaired, trudging through the snowy drifts in my wellies to order flowers from the florists. Sometimes I feel guilty that I expected so much of poor Mr B, especially given
my own fear of driving in icy weather. Yes, you will be pleased to hear, we made the journey - bless him!
Yesterday we celebrated his birthday a day early. Why
celebrate one 21st Birthday, when you can celebrate twice? There were presents! A birthday banner! A chocolate birthday cake! A family meal! Plus I sent him up into the loft to fetch down all the Christmas decorations so that we could set up the tree and festoon
it with all the various bells and baubles accumulated over ever so many years. Why have a dog and bark yourself, Mr B would say - but no, not I. However we did need to start installing Christmas in our living room and Jack was, as ever, a Willing Helper.
But, wait! Turning twenty-one means an end to some of the childhood traditions. We have agreed, for example, that birthday banners cease at 21, only to be resumed for forthcoming
Big Birthdays. Like those with an 0 at the end. Jack says that’s fine by him. He is grateful, I suspect, that he will not have to pose with me under a birthday banner again until he is thirty. Which is such a very long way off that for the moment he
can Rest Easy.
Likewise, the Giant Penguin has appeared on the doorstep, heralding his arrival, for the last time. Jack is, don’t you know, just a bit too
old for all that. Though my Little Sister Maggie still expects a Giant Penguin Greeting when she comes to visit. Last week, when the Twins arrived to celebrate their 4th Birthday, it was a proper Windy Miller Day and the Giant Penguin fell over in a heap on
the doorstep. “You appear to have a small whale on your doorstep...” remarked a puzzled District Nurse when she arrived to attend to Mr B’s legs. Jack seems quite relieved about the future absence of the Giant Penguin too...
Twenty-one marks the end, too, of another tradition - the annual gift of Christmas tree decorations to each grandchild. You may be wondering why this particular tradition couldn’t
continue - in evidence I give you this year’s photo of my (Not So Very Little) Welsh Boys. Unbidden, they have lined up all the decorations they have received over the years since they were born. Sam has a long line of thirteen; James an only slightly
shorter line of eleven. Young Morgan’s line consists of just seven, counting this year’s “home-made with love” creation which he is dangling from his fingers. It’s only fair that the younger children do, eventually, catch up.
I’m sure you agree.
I shall have to think up another tradition, for my Fully Grown Grandchildren who now number two. Heaven forefend that they should think
I love them any the less for the lack of a banner or a bauble. I can’t actually think of anything at the moment - but give me time.
Happy 21st Birthday,
dear Jack! You mean the world to me.
Now, if you could just see your way to sending me a photo of you under your birthday banner...