I love family gatherings, particularly at Christmas. I even missed a first date with myboyfriend (now husband) to attend a party with ‘the rellies’. Luckily we rescheduled and he took his brother to the dinner dance (how weird is that?!) I loved going to my Aunty Clare’s. In my family home nobody could cross the threshold, well except tradesmen, but Aunty Clare’s was full of family and random people my uncle brought home from the pub. My uncle was a miner and had a great tenor voice. His name was Emlyn Evans, no need to guess his nationality! Well our gatherings were always full of song and merriment, and dancing too. They played what we called LPs on an old record player and we danced modern and ballroom, including the Paul Jones. It ended with the men dancing to Zorba the Greek. My boyfriend/husband thought it the strangest thing and wondered why I’d preferred these occasions to dinner dances. As a child I always had silver dance shoes for Christmas and even went for ballroom dancing lessons. Not that you’d know now…
We carried on going with our own children but not so often. Sadly the older generation are now all gone, except one. We continued to enjoy the events but as the seniors got older we noticed how they would make the same comments every year. Things we hadn’t noticed previously … So my brother invented ‘the ancient game of cards’. It’s a good way of adding verve to family occasions. Try it…
Start by listing 52 comments regularly made by individuals who will attend the party/gathering. Type them up. It may sound a lot but once you get going you’ll have loads. Issue a copy to all those who are ‘in on the game’. They have to tick them off secretly as they hear them said. But there are certain rules. Firstly you are not allowed to provoke the comment. Secondly you have to submit your completed sheet for verification so it might help to note who it was said to, and at which point in the evening. Thirdly the rellies should not know what you are doing. My mother-in-law once found a discarded but half-completed sheet and asked what it was. We said ‘a game’, didn’t elaborate and she didn’t pursue it. I suspect they would have found it funny. Well they were Northerners!
At the end of the evening you check completed sheets and award a prize to the one with the most. Here are some that we used, that I can remember…
‘Our John never looks any older’ (meaning the rest of us do!)
‘Haven’t you grown!’ – said to anyone at any age!
‘Champagne’s over-rated, prefer sparkling wine myself…’ (said as they were drinking what we had brought!)
‘Doesn’t the Queen look old?’ – she’s out-lived the lot of them.
‘Christmas is not what it used to be…’ (as we worked ourselves to the bone for days!)
‘That’s it, all over for another year’ (said by 9am Christmas morning)
‘The war… Best time of my life…’ (millions killed, mind)
‘What do you pay for… Coffee/beans/pineapple chunks etc? (Me – ‘I haven’t a clue!’. Dad – ‘You’ve more money than sense, you…’ – said until two years ago)
‘There’s nothing nicer than an ISA…’
‘A funny thing happened at the baths…’
‘Music’s rubbish today… Put Frank on again’ (Sinatra – always first names!)
‘The traffic’s terrible, Jack’s blown a gasket…’
‘I love you yer know… ‘ – Jack’s sentimental journey sponsored by Bells, said to any member of the family
‘I’ve had a good life… When I die put me in a black bin bag with the rubbish’
‘The Chorley people are up in arms… ‘ (about lots of things)
‘When we win the lottery we’ll all go and live in Spain…’
‘Politicians are all liars…’
‘Did you get yer blessing from the Pope this morning? Works throughout the screen you know…’
I could go on. Guess what? I suspect our children are doing one this year. Comments like ‘Mum, stop going on about Aldi…’. confirm that we are now adopting the habits of the senior generation. Don’t our kids have any respect?!