We are sitting out in the back garden - socially but definitely not emotionally distant - and pretending that we aren’t shivering, not too much anyway, on the chilliest day since Lockdown began. It is my Lockdown
Birthday and, thanks to the gradual easing of the Lockdown Rules, the Youngest of the Darling Daughters and her family have come to visit. It is the best birthday present of all to see them...
My daughter, who feels the cold like none other, is wrapped up against the elements in a coat, woolly bobble hat and a large scarf which is more like a blanket than neck attire. She says, cheerfully (she is the most positive
of people) that at least it isn’t raining. She goes on to explain that, really and truly, she could put up with any weather so long as it doesn’t rain.
families being what they are, this leads to a number of objections from her Nearest and Dearest probing the obvious weak points in her argument. What even a tornado? someone objects. Or, heaven forbid, a tsunami? How about - an avalanche? This reduces us all
to the helpless giggles, no one more so than I, as a picture of my daughter flies, unbidden, into my head: she is being carried down a steep mountain by an avalanche of snow, her bobble-hatted head just about peeping out of the drift as she calls out, positively:
“At least it’s not raining....”
I hesitate to say it, but it does seem as if people go to extra efforts to make sure that Lockdown Birthdays,
with all their limitations, are even more special than normal Age-Related celebrations. I say I hesitate because I am aware that, cruelly, this won’t be the same for everybody’s Lockdown Birthday - we probably only hear about the best days.
I am, I know (and have always known) that I am one of the lucky ones.
Even before my family arrived, I had been visited by an amazing virtual procession of family
and friends via a series of videos put together by the Middle of the Darling Daughters. Sons, daughters and grandchildren. Brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, some of my former Brownies recalling my days as “Brown Owl”, friends from near
and far - including one lovely family from far away in America. There had also been a Special Delivery of a box containing our birthday dinner (complete with two bottles of wine) organised on behalf of the whole family by the Eldest of the Darling Daughters.
All I would have to do, when the time was right, was put all the dishes either in the oven or the microwave. What a way to start - and finish - the day!
my cards and presents - “Didn’t I do well!?” I exclaim in time-honoured fashion and we manage to eat our picnic lunch before the rain starts. I send grandchildren Jack and Hazel into the garage to fetch something Birthday Related from the
fridge - they emerge bearing aloft a tray full of Ready Jelly Go jellies, a childhood treat from their very earliest days. As I see it, you are never too old for a traffic light jelly.
We brave the early spits and spots of rain (as the weather forecasters sometimes describe it) but eventually it starts to come down rather more determinedly. Are we down-hearted? Oh, dear me, no! Son-in-Law, Dunk’em Dave, has
successfully reintroduced fresh batteries into the remote control that governs the workings of our awning so my guests are able to huddle under its shelter while I retire just inside the patio doors to maintain our social distance. Thanks to Zoom, the
whole family arrives to sing Happy Birthday and watch me blow out the candles on the cake (a truly scrumptious home-baked lemon sponge with chocolate button decorations.) I could almost imagine they are all around me - though had they been with me in person
I suspect the singing of Happy Birthday would have been more tuneful. Though not more special, I hasten to add.
No hugs, of course - but the Rascally Trio have
an answer to that. A wrap around hug made of paper, with their own hand-prints cut out at the end of long, long, paper arms. Wrapping it round myself, I swear I could feel the hug...
Such a shame, several people remarked, that my birthday coincided with such cold, rainy weather after weeks and weeks of sunshine. But do you know, thanks to so many family and friends, it couldn’t have been any better or, certainly, more memorable.
I will never forget - or fail to be grateful for - everyone who helped to make my Shivering-in-the-Garden Lockdown Birthday so very special.