I don’t have a ‘squad’. But I do know at least four or five people who probably don’t want me to die, consisting mainly of my fab cousins.
When we are all together, we are a formidable force. A brilliant, amazing dynasty, hailing from several countries and this week, the stars aligned.
We came in droves, from all corners of the world, to celebrate a special birthday. And on a school night too!
My mother, sadly no longer with us, was the eldest. The head of the family is her next in line sister, Kathleen.
It is a big, big undertaking, we are not an easy people. We are loud, fond of a party, and utterly unapologetic about it.
A proper celebration
Some things deserve to be celebrated. Kathleen’s birthday was one of them, and being all back together was another.
She takes on the role of ‘The Don’ with all the patience, tenacity and grace required. Everyone is included. Everyone is invited. Everyone is welcomed, fussed over and assured of how loved they are.
It’s no surprise. Having opened and run a successful restaurant in Spain over 46 years ago, there is nothing this queen does not know about being hospitable or throwing a party. Only she could have the Busby Hotel absolutely banging on a Monday night.
This was to be no ordinary party and we came from London, Inverness, Spain, Andorra with only a few missing from further afield – Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia.
What a joy to be all together. Big celebrations like these instantly dissolve time and distance. Cousins who haven’t seen each other in years gladly recalling embarrassing antics and hilarious stories. Our claim to being the ‘kids’ now null and void.
Two of us turn 50 this year and the eldest grandchild will be 22. It is time to pass on the baton to the new, young crew. Currently it doesn’t appear they are straying far from the well-trodden path we laid before them.
How it works
We tried to explain how it all works to the younger crew, this is never easy as we’re not overly sure ourselves. Does anyone actually know how the whole cousins/cousins once removed/cousins twice removed /third cousin system works?
We certainly don’t. At some point we have no idea what relation we are. And we simply don’t care. It’s amazing, these are people I genuinely can’t get through life without.
One particular cousin and I have the ability to turn everything into a party. Waiting in a taxi queue at 4am? On a late night train home? We’ll end up BFFs with the person opposite, sharing a bottle of rose with the hen party across the aisle eventually getting an invitation to the actual wedding.
We are, to the shame of our aunts, notorious. And we love it.
Between us all, we’ve managed another to add the next 15 offspring to this beautifully unorthodox clan.
Ranging from their twenties to brand new, literally just out the packet, a few months old. These days, the relationships are instant.
No waiting for a summer holiday catch up. No hoping for a family wedding. They just swap profiles, like each other’s TikTok and Instagram stories. They also tend to have a better idea of what’s going on than we do.
The next generation
We fondly watch these new relationships forge and blossom. Feeling old, laughing about how we thought parenting a toddler was the hardest thing we’d ever had to do. Until they became teenagers.
We sympathise over almost crashing trying to teach them to drive. We wryly recount their heavy sighs and protests that we didn’t die and need to ‘chill out’.
We laugh, remembering tiny tots late for school because they wouldn’t wear shoes, now it’s because they drove to Starbucks for a grande, caramel, oat milk latte, extra hot.
If we dare to give them a row they cast up overheard stories of our youth and rightly call us out.
In our youth we never considered we were meant to eventually lead by example.
Pitifully, we try to explain it’s easier to practice self-restraint from foolish choices as you get older, not because we’re wiser but because we’re tired.
If someone can please remind my Tuesday morning hungover self of this, I’d be grateful.
Happy Birthday Kathleen