My family have always been important to me and I have always lived close to them. My parents are still alive, though not in the best of health and I have 2 brothers, both now divorced. Our children are quite close in ages to each other (ranging from 15 to 22), and when they were young, my brothers still married, my parents well and younger and my grandmother alive we were all very close.
Many weekends and holiday times were spent at my parents house, with all of the generations present. My mum would cook a huge roast, or the men (or sometimes I) would be cooking a barbecue. There would be wine (lots of it), the children would play and we would discuss stuff, often putting the world to rights. They were happy times in lots of ways and certainly we have many photos which seem to reflect that.
I think things began to change in 1999 when my nan died after a very short illness. In many ways, she was a glue that held us, prevented bickering and arguments. Stopped people judging and prevented unpleasantness. She was a kind lady who would give her last £1 to you. She lived on a very small pension, but always managed to make Christmas and birthdays something special. She was always up for a challenge; getting into the children’s tent, putting her feet into their bath at bath time with them, getting on roller skates and a skateboard to their delight.
After her death, things did continue, but her absence affected us all. For some reason things were never quite the same.
More recently there have been marriage splits, and the older children have of course gone off to University and my nephew is about to join the army. But there are sometimes glimpses of the old days, like at Christmas just gone. My son and two nephews, now old enough to drink, sitting around the table like older men, eating cheese and drinking wine. I was able to glimpse both the past and future. Hopefully family will remain as important to them as it always has been to me.