Monday, October 11, 2010

A Family Affair

We've been very fortunate in recent weeks to see an awful lot of our extended family- nearly a full house on both sides in fact! This was very much how it was for both C and I when we were growing up, with cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents forming important threads in the fabric of our lives. I'm very happy that the same seems to be happening for our little ones.
The occasion on the weekend just gone, which began with a car journey spent knitting, was a special centenary. 100 years ago on Saturday my paternal grandmother was born. Professional harpist, wartime bride, mother of two and much loved wife, you never hear those who remember her (she died when I was four, so I'm not among them) describe her as sweet or gentle. Instead you get the picture of a strong, witty, intelligent force to be reckoned with, for whom family was so very important. My Dad's sister had the idea that to celebrate her birthday it would be great to have a family get together. This used to happen on that side of the family a lot when I was little, with Baptisms, First Communions and Confirmations happening in either mine or my cousins' family more or less every year. We were also lucky enough to have a Grandfather and Great Aunt who organised summer parties and St Nicholas Day celebrations for the lot of us.
And a lot of us there were. My 'Mama' (as we called her) only lived to see four grandchildren born. That number eventually grew to eight. On Saturday, as well as her two children, her son in law and daughter in law and her eight grandchildren, there were also eight great-grandchildren- P was in heaven with so many little ones to play with and I was pretty happy to catch up with cousins whom I haven't seen for two years.
At a lovely country house hotel in Herefordshire (nice and central for a family coming in from London, Surrey, Manchester, Shropshire and Cumbria) we ate a fantastic meal, pored over precious documents that gave amazing glimpses of a life begun a century ago, had a slideshow of photographs and even watched a DVD of my grandparents, aunt and uncle, and parents' wedding - they had a family friend at the time who was a home film enthusiast. We had a harpist to play who also, so patiently, allowed the children to explore her instrument. Perhaps most precious of all, we got the chance to catch up and reminisce with one another and to demonstrate to the next generation how wonderful and rich the experience of family life can be.

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