Our annual family picnic: ‘A time to locate up, eat and make some-more memories …

July 11, 2015 - Picnic Time

Last weekend we wound adult kissing lots of strangers in a park – well, maybe dual or three. My father hold behind as we did so and didn’t even make any try to stop me. Every year, my mum, her 4 sisters and their families accumulate for a annual cruise – and this year noted a 31st anniversary.

Sisters, grandparents, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and many some-more of us who are associated to any other in all demeanour of uncanny and infrequently difficult formations accumulate during a median of a Wimbledon tennis championships. The usually condition is that we have to be associated in some kind of way, possibly by blood or marriage.

Family folklore has it that my aunty Sheila started a round rolling for this annual family fest when she remarked to one of my sisters that as an extended organisation we usually ever collected for weddings and funerals – and even afterwards not all could always attend. So they had a thought of anticipating an open space where we could all accommodate once a year, come sleet or shine. The date was set as a final Sunday in Jun – and this never changes. We are means to decamp to a internal church gymnasium during brief notice in a box of severe weather.

My sister Mary, who claims never to have missed one, says it’s a initial eventuality she puts in her diary any year.

“It’s non-negotiable. Making it a same day any year creates it so easy. we devise my holiday around it and a amicable calendar. Whatever a invite, if it clashes with a picnic, we spin it down.”

People start flapping in from midday – there are always a early birds (those with a younger children) and there are always a late arrivals (reluctant teenagers, those who stopped off during a pub on a way, or who have trafficked some distance). For me, a pretence is to arrive super-early – afterwards people have to hail we when they arrive. There’s also an tacit order that a happy “helloooo, you’re looking well” is a ideally excusable title if a name slips your mind.

Last year, my great-nephew Charlie brought along his really new partner – petite and terrified, she hovered on a edge, kissed and embraced by countless strangers who invited her to play rounders – a fiercely fought annual battle. We’ve had opposite variations of rounders teams over a years: kids v adults/males v females/under 35s v over 35s/”real” family v “outsiders and out-laws”. Often my possess children come home and say, “Who was that chairman on third bottom who held me out and how am we associated to them again?”

Josie during a initial family cruise in 1984.

When we was younger we wasn’t a good fan of a family cruise – during a initial assembly we was an ungainly 17, and being a youngest sixth daughter of a youngest fifth sister, many of my cousins were comparison than me and therefore not people to whom we had most to say.

But now, during 48, with my possess 3 we can see a value of a eventuality – and as we get comparison a age opening matters less. Spending time with people from all generations, listening to their stories, and pity food and memories is a singular eventuality that lots of people are not so propitious to have.

Through a years a numbers have fluctuated. At a commencement there were fewer than 15 people. Last year, we were around a 80 symbol and we’ve formerly surfaced 100. One year not so prolonged ago we were a insignificant 23. But it always goes ahead: if we spin up, someone will be there.

My second cousin Vicky sums it adult ideally when she says that while life gets in a way, this is one date she tries not to miss. “There are so many families who don’t know any other, who could travel past any other in a travel and don’t ever get to suffer any other,” she says. “I have been alone during times in my life and afterwards come to a family cruise and been reminded that there are people who adore and care.”

My cousin Loretta, who also claims to be one of a 3 never to have missed it (Stuart being a other), says that but this eventuality some of us wouldn’t ever have got to accommodate a second and third cousins. “I can remember dual occasions where extended family members have bumped into any other in Leicester Square and Brighton. Had it not been for a family picnic, they would have upheld on a travel not meaningful they were related.”

In a serve development, this year was a initial when we all got to lay (fight over) on a dais we have dedicated in a park to my silent Norrie and her challenging sisters, Breda, Eileen, Maureen and Sheila.

My silent was a final of a Fehily daughters to die in 2013. Now she is no longer here, attending a family cruise has turn an even bigger joining for me. This is somewhere else that she was. She walked this path. She sat on this grass. Now some-more than ever it’s a changed eventuality to mount still, and splash in a atmosphere, demeanour back, and demeanour forward. This is one large, sprawling, crazy, amatory family.

Another cousin, Elaine, creates a same point. “There aren’t adequate weddings in a family to make them a yearly event, and so a cruise keeps we connected with everybody and happens during a time when we are not surrounded by a grief of a funeral.”

Perhaps a final word should go to my cousin Maureen – she’ll kill me for essay that she is now one of a family elders. “I lapse to a family cruise any year to hail a newborns,” she says, “while holding in my heart a desired ones left before. It’s a time to regroup, to locate adult on a news, to embrace, to eat, to drink, to giggle and to make nonetheless some-more memorable memories.”

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