In the afterglow of my son and belle-fille’s wedding, we continued family celebrations with an early birthday dinner for Clive.
Clive’s real birthday is in November, but the occasion of the wedding meant that for the first time ever – though we hope not the last – we had all our children and stepchildren together in the same physical location. It was a perfect opportunity to gather together and celebrate family, in addition to my beloved husband’s upcoming birthday.
Our immediate global family, not counting parents, consists of my son and his wife; my U.S. stepson, his wife and their three sons; my Aussie stepson, his wife, their two sons and one daughter; and my Aussie stepdaughter.
There’s so much I could write – and have written – about these individuals, not least of which is their kindness and generosity in welcoming Clive and me into their respective families.
At some point several years ago, the American family and the Aussie family – they’d never met in person, except for my son — had heard enough about each other that they became long-distance friends via social media and email. They gradually learned more and more about each other’s lives and their children’s lives.
To Clive’s and my heartfelt gratitude, it also happened at some point that the parents agreed it could be a bit complicated when explaining to their children how everyone was related. Clive’s daughter-in-law, for example, could say to her son, when speaking about one of the American boys, ‘He is Daddy’s stepbrother’s half-brother’s son.’ Conversely, my U.S. stepson, when speaking to his sons about the Aussie boys, could say, ‘They are Uncle Gary’s stepbrother’s sons.’
These wonderful parents then decided (without our involvement) to skip all the ‘step’ and ‘half’ descriptions and agreed, ‘let’s not worry about being technically accurate. We’re brothers and sisters and our kids are cousins.’
Before the wedding, the mothers discussed what their children would call the adults, and agreed simply on ‘Uncle’ and ‘Aunt’ – the only remaining question was then: how would they all react to each other when they finally met in person?
I guess families are families and kids are kids. Despite there not being a perfect fit regarding ages (children ranging from almost-5 to 13), the Americans and Aussies seemed to click right from the start. They met in person for the first time at the rehearsal dinner, sat together at the wedding, and the children played together the weekend after the wedding.
Whether clowning around for the camera, playing games in our hotel room, going to a playground or having quiet time in the lobby while their parents chatted over a final coffee, everyone seemed to get along great.
We’re not sure if or when an occasion like this will happen next, but we hope it won’t be too many years before we can get this group together once again.
Thank you to my Aussie stepson for the lovely words he said about his father (and me) at the birthday dinner; to my son and belle-fille for joining us the evening after their wedding; to the magnificent moms (or mums) who guided their children to call each other cousins and aunts and uncles; and to the whole family for making it such a memorable birthday get-together.
Until next time, we’re thankful everyone is back safe and sound to their respective homes, including me and Clive. We’re happy to see our tree by the sea in England and will have a more local celebration for Clive’s real birthday when the time comes.
Cheers and thanks for reading. Next week’s letter will be from Felixstowe.