I think it would be fair to say that the Child Family do enjoy a nice Get-Together!
To an Outsider or a Newcomer, I should imagine the experience of initiation into the Clan, might come as somewhat of a shock; which is to say, that this is not for the fainthearted!
Mine is a Matriarchal family, and yet it revolves around my Father who, like a vivid Sun presides over an oestrogen-heavy Universe. More than sixty five years of enthusiastic breeding and colourful marriages have allowed to the generations to overlap, so that my youngest brother, is a mere four years older than my eldest son. This entirely eliminates any opportunity for a melodramatic teenager, to wail plaintively that, "It's not fair .... NO one understands me?" as invariably, this is impossible if your Uncle is a mere Teen himself? Plus, one is most likely to be told firmly, just to "Get on!" if even contemplating wallowing in self pity within a Family, so awash with theatricals! And of course you could follow my Father's directive that ;If you don't like it here, you can always "Go to the Pub!"
Arriving at a Family party, must be a little like stumbling upon a colony of mating Elephant Seals, in terms of sheer size and volume! You will invariably be crushed to the Family bosom and kissed firmly on each cheek and thereupon asked what you would like to drink? A wall of sound hits you like a juggernaut because my Family LOVES to talk. Loudly. And where possible Shout! In fact there are very few things that my Family doesn't love doing, with the exception of anything to do with Maths or V.A.T.
We eat to too much, smoke to much, drink much too enthusiastically and are demonstrably over affectionate. In short we generally have a hell of a good time. God forbid, if you are about to enter the fold, that you might be Vegan or Shy?
There s no particular criteria for inclusion ,although you might find yourself in a sticky situation if you are Dull, Flat Chested or have Bad Manners? Lest anyone feel inadequate let me explain..
The Child family is noisy, opinionated and prone to getting overexcited. Therefore if you are monosyllabic and say Toilet, Lounge, Settee or PARDON, you're on a fast train to nowhere!
Quirky is good. Eccentric a dead cert, particularly if it makes a good story to tell!
As a Teenager, I tried resolutely to kick back against the Family and was disconcerted to find even militant Evangelical Christianity and Near-Infant Marriage failed to even rock the Family's unswerving devotion to me. Even throwing in a baby or three straight out of University was met with utter acceptance and reassurance that they had utter conviction in my decision making? What the Hell?
So now that I've been cut loose from my marriage, the draw to the Family is irresistible. I don't feel as though I need re branding with the family stamp, rather it is as though, the ties that bind you, become all the stronger when the current threatens to overwhelm you. I never really left.
Arriving at my sister's 21st Birthday Party was so wonderfully reassuring. Even if you have gained enough weight to make you an easy contender for the Bulgarian Olympic female Wrestling Squad, you can be assured that someone will say "Darling you look marvellous and you've lost weight?" before handing you a plate heaped with enough cholesterol laden comfort food to clog the Channel Tunnel. And this is love. The total and complete assurance, that you are unequivocally wanted and that it has never even crossed the collective family consciousness, that you might have failed.. Spectacularly!
I mused as to what particular image embodied the Family and realised that it was something I had possessed all along? The family Bosom. We are a family of statuesque women; both Blond and Brunette, but one of our many defining feature is the hereditary plateau-like bust! Between my Father and his two magnificent sisters collectively known as "The Aunts", twelve nephews and nieces, never mind three grandchildren; have been rocked, bobbed, winded and balanced on the Child Bosom. Even my petite middle sister has ,what could be politely called "ample plenty"! This family does nothing by b cups!
Whilst it was the bane of my adolescence ( I longed to look like Kate Moss)and I was known as "Himalayas" at school; as I wobbled into the uncertainty of Motherhood, I suddenly realised that I drew comfort from the fact that I, just like the strong, brave and determined women in my family; had a bust to be reckoned with! As I looked at my beautiful youngest Sister beside her Mother and our Aunt, I realised that it take balls to carry off a bust like ours?
It our utter conviction ,that us Child Women are indefatigable, that binds my family together, where other families may value brains, success and wealth above all else.
Thus, heady with self-belief and bursting at the seams with enough food to feed a small battalion I headed back around the M25 to that God-Forsaken Outpost in the East (It's Essex, not Siberia Dad!) ready to fight another day.