On those special occasions when we manage to gather more or less all the family together over the course of a weekend you can guarantee there will be laughs a plenty.
What you can’t guarantee is that everything will run completely smoothly, that there will be civilised conversation accompanying every meal and that nobody will disrupt the peace by (i) vociferously demanding extra carrots
to chew on (eight month old Morgan); (ii) inviting everyone to yet another “show” (that’s Sam aged 6 and James aged 4); or (iii) practising for tomorrow’s GCSE French oral exam (15 year old Jack.) That’s not even to mention Hazel.
“You know, Hazel,” her uncle commented, “I’ve only just realised – you really are LOUD, aren’t you?” Loud and proud, that’s what I say. Hazel agrees with me.
The occasion, in case you’ve forgotten, was the Son And Only’s “Nearly 40th Birthday Family Celebration”. It was a “Nearly Birthday” because he won’t actually hit
the Big Four O for just over a week – but this turned out to be the only weekend when his three siblings and his parents (Mr B and I) could all make one or both days. Next weekend he is partying with his mates, the weekend after that the Eldest of the
Darling Daughters and family will be off skiing, and the weekend after that is really, really close to the day when Little Champ is set to make an appearance – so the Mother-To-Be (aka the Middle of the Darling Daughters) is unlikely to want to travel.
So this weekend it had to be – and it was, I have to say, predictably chaotic and enormous fun. “I think I need at least an extra arm,” I told my
three Little Welsh Boys this morning, trying to cuddle them all at once. James was quick to put me right. “All persons,” he told me, censoriously, “Only have two arms.” I think James believes I live in cloud cuckoo land. He could well
be right. Actually we were lucky enough to have eight extra arms – the little boys adore their “Big Cousins” and Katie, Jack, Hazel and Eleanor were more than happy to keep them occupied. I think it was remarkably good planning
on my part to have four older grandchildren, followed by three (soon to be four) younger grandchildren. Though I’m not sure I can claim much credit for such brilliant organisation.
In honour of the Nearly Birthday Boy, there was a meal out on Saturday at a local Italian restaurant (they found the ideal table for us, well apart from all their other diners – I wonder why?) and today a Sunday Roast at the
home of the Youngest of the Darling Daughters and her long-suffering fella. For decoration, there was one of my special recycled Birthday Banners (he’s under strict instructions to send the letters back for recycling before the next birthday...)
and a simply delicious chocolate Nearly Birthday Cake, complete with Nearly Birthday Candles. We sang “Happy Nearly Birthday to You” with our customary gusto and some truly excellent harmonising. I hope we did the Birthday Boy proud.
I’m not sure I can do credit, in words, to the concert put on by Jack, Sam and James. You probably had to be there to really appreciate it. Jack, on piano, played “Walking
In the Air” and stuck manfully to his task, despite considerable distractions, as befits a true musician. James on ukulele and Sam on guitar, started the concert sitting down and plucking away at the strings of their instruments before rising, as one,
to their feet and walking slowly around, occasionally (for some inexplicable reason) standing on one leg. Their audience was in silent hysterics, shaking with laughter but trying not to let the performers see the effect they were having on us.
I think we got away with it. Just.
Home again and I texted the Youngest of the Darling Daughters (she likes to know we are back safe and sound) to thank her for
hosting such a lovely Family Birthday Weekend. Here’s how the text conversation went:
YDD: “It was lovely, wasn’t it? If mad.”
“Mad is good, don’t you think?”
YDD: “Mad is better than boring, for sure.”
And so say
all of us. Including (hopefully) the Nearly Birthday Boy...