As regular readers know so well, I have a habit of introducing family traditions which then rule my life for the rest of my days. There is an expectation built up which I cannot disappoint.
Sometimes I seek to draw a line based on the age of the recipient. So, for example, where Christmas tree decorations are concerned, 21 was the cut-off point. I still feel guilty every Christmas when
I buy or make tree decorations for all the younger grandchildren but not the older ones - though I remind myself that, this way, every grandchild will eventually receive the same number of baubles. I was cheered when our Katie, on buying a house of her own
with her fiancé Nathan, had 21 decorations with which to decorate her tree on her very first Christmas in her new home. It seemed to prove my point.
brings us to Easter and yet another family tradition. No, I’m not actually talking about the Easter Trail, though we did have not one, but two of them, too. Last weekend we were visited by two Darling Daughters and their families. My special surprise
was the arrival of granddaughter Hazel Bagel, who wasn’t expected but was doubly welcome. As was her brother Jack who was expected but is always, and always be, very welcome.
Nor did I have to worry over much about feeding the five thousand (okay, the eleven) because they brought everything with them for a massive family barbecue including a sack of barbecue coals. Our ancient barbecue was rescued from
the end of the garden and the Great Feast was prepared.
The two Sons-in-Law put themselves in charge of the barbecue but hit a snag when the coals simply
wouldn’t catch light properly. Did I have, I was asked, a hair dryer? I scuttled off to find my trusty hair dryer while the Barbecuers Extraordinaire tried to work out where to plug it in. I kid you not, it took three extension leads and a hair dryer
to fan the flames sufficiently to create the required heat. (Incidentally, for a good week since when I have dried my hair, wet from the shower, there is the unmistakable smoky smell of burning charcoal - it’s a reminder, of (smelling) sorts, of a special
My Easter Trail wasn’t my best effort but then I had only had three hours from the time my Little Sister and Co left, at 9 a.m., till the next party
arrived at 12. To be fair, my Little Sister had suggested one clue, in rhyme no less, which I did include, though I couldn’t quite manage to keep up her poetic turn of phrase in the remaining nine clues. Plus, as I told my Little Sister when she messaged
me on her way home to ask me how my trail was coming along, it was, and always would be, All About The Eggs.
The Trio almost came unstuck on the first clue
“A Flowery Welcome” - in fact the whole party, adults and all, were scratching their collective heads for some time. Obviously my new front door mat, with its profusion of poppies and other blooms, hadn’t properly registered with my
visitors. Once the Trio had solved all the clues and claimed their eggs, I set them the task of fashioning a trail for their cousins Jack and Hazel. Who are, obviously, much too old for Easter Trails but, thankfully, not for Eggs. The Middle of the Darling
Daughters agreed with me that it was good for the Trio to be the ones setting the clues, as well as the ones answering them.
It was at this point in the proceedings,
after the Trails and the Food, that my daughter reminded the Trio of the other special Easter Tradition - the potato and spoon races. I introduced these more than twenty years ago, when the four oldest grandchildren were but littl’uns. Potatoes seemed
to be a rather inspired alternative to eggs - and so a tradition was born.
Except that this year I had completely forgotten all about the potato and spoon
races. To cover my confusion, and with every finger and toe crossed, I consulted the cupboard in which I keep my vegetables - where I found three absolutely enormous potatoes. I do mean enormous. Hopefully not only would they save my face but they would also
be a subject of considerable hilarity.
So it proved. The potatoes were so large that they only just fitted into the ladle, the serving spoon, and the extra
large mixing spoon. Moreover, they were so large that they mostly stayed put, however fast the runners raced. A race around the tamarisk tree, followed by a hop, skip and a jump to the skipping rope which doubled as the finishing line. When everyone managed
to complete the course without dropping their enormous potato we decided to time everybody, including me. I, in recognition of my Great Age, was allowed to take a shorter route but still managed to take several seconds longer than the slowest of the Trio.
The Trio, I have to tell you, all have quite amazing memories. Hence when next Easter comes round and I have only normal-sized potatoes on offer, they will be most put-out.
It will be an ENORMOUS disappointment…