Now regular readers will know we’re a close family. I have 3 beautiful grown up daughters, 2 fine sons-in-law, 4 wonderful grandsons and, of course, my wife Caz who I love more than anything. I’m biased and this must sound cheesily gushing I know, but they really are decent and fun people and I like to be near them as much as possible. So this lockdown has been tough on us, emotionally.
Especially since our eldest daughter R who has Down’s syndrome lives in London with 3 house mates like her and we haven’t been able to visit her in two months. Another daughter S lives in New York, with our youngest grandkids, and, alongside her husband, is striving incredibly hard to keep their marketing business going and their kids home-educated whilst isolated, and we can’t help a jot. Thankfully we live within 20 minutes of our middle daughter E and her super family but have had only minimal contact with them from a distance – that’s possibly harder to bear because they are so close yet untouchable.
We aren’t alone in this of course and thank goodness (and I’m desperately not wanting to tempt fate here) we haven’t had to endure the sacrifice that more than 30,000 other families have. Small mercies eh. But this particular time of year is special to us – it’s almost as big as Xmas in family terms. You see this week and a half is birthday central for the pasta paulie clan – our fab grandson Georgie hits teenage, whilst Manhattan-based daughter S, the baby in our immediate family, hits a milestone age unbelievably, and finally it’s also daughter R’s birthday an event she always looks forward to the most; the year’s only Becksy-centric day when she gets inundated with every imaginable bit of Westlife gifting.
It’s always an expensive time of year but it doesn’t matter. We love the pressie-giving, the parties and celebrations, the going-out and having some great food and cake, the odd glass or two, singing Happy Birthday To You badly, the ceremonial blowing out of the candles, the wish-making, the kisses and hugs, loads of laughter, lots of crazy photos, and usually a few happy tears too (from whoever picks up the restaurant bill, or doesn’t get a personalised Nicky Byrne-emblazoned birthday card). Ha! It’s always a pretty joyous late May chez nous. And this year…. we were due to fly out tomorrow to see daughter S and the boys, spending some cool time with them in the coolest city on earth, probably. Back in time for Becksy’s do. The flight credits for some time in the future aren’t quite the same thing are they?
Sigh…but some solace. You see yesterday we snuck over to Buckingham and joined E and the boys sitting safely-distanced 6 ft apart at either end of the extensive garden table to celebrate Georgie’s coming-of-teenage. Cake, some Prosecco a show of gifts and a chance to socialise a tiny bit at bloody last. I’m sure Matt Hancock would have tut-tutted if he’d seen us but I really don’t give two fucks to be honest. It wasn’t quite a return to the norm but it was enough of a close family fix to give Caz and me a proper high. And the best bit? Seeing Georgie who hasn’t had a regular haircut for weeks, turn 13 and still enjoying opening his cards and pressies. Love him and the hair…
Talk about hair envy