Twenty-eight family members gathered today to celebrate my mother Irene’s eightieth birthday. My father, at eighty-four, was the eldest present, and my fifteen months old grandaughter the youngest, most of us UK based in Scotland and England, but my sister had flown in from Canada (generous as ever, as though she’d just caught the bus from half a mile down the road), and a nephew from Barcelona (of whom I’m a teensy-weensy bit jealous – I mean, fancy living in Barcelona!)
And as Genesis has it: “behold it was very good” – the gathering itself being the only gift the still youthful-looking octogenarian had requested – something which, typically for her, she could share with as large a number of her loved ones as possible.
So now we’ve another 60+ photos for the already well-stocked family album, innumerable memories of affectionate hugs, reunion conversations, and the sight of both my parents beaming amongst the cheerful sounds of family chatter and their great grand-children playing around them. Mindful, too, of my own happy childhood days, surrounded by this large family (“on earth and in heaven”) I’m struck tonight by what a lovely and loving bunch of people they all are – each utterly unique, and all absolutely belonging.
My mother’s eightieth birthday: truly a Thanksgiving Day. Many happy returns, Mum, and – for your long practiced gift for hospitality of heart and home, drawing people in – a heartfelt “thank you!”