Diary of A Modern Gran | Two Christmas Lunches

Lady chasing pram Illustration: Istockphoto

I’m not a big eater. But this Christmas, I have no choice. That’s if I want to please everyone!

Perhaps I’d better explain.

Regular readers might remember that my husband has low immunity so we have to be particularly careful about social distancing.

Which – amongst other things – puts me in a tricky positon for Christmas day.

Usually, my grandchildren and their parents come to us on December 25th – or we to them. After all, they’re only just round the corner.

But my husband is understandably nervous about sharing the same table, especially as his treatment is just coming to an end.

I’d feel guilty about leaving him alone for Christmas lunch. Yet at the same time, I want to be with my other little family – especially as my eldest son (who lives in Spain) is staying with them.

So between us, we hit on a compromise…

I’ll have breakfast with my husband; nip round to the children for present opening; back home for a light lunch with husband; back to my daughter and son-in-law’s for a late Christmas lunch at about 5pm; and then back to husband to watch an evening film.

Amazingly, it works! I did point out to my husband that in theory, I could pass on germs to him but he said he was happy to take that risk. We also took daily tests throughout the Christmas period although there was a moment of panic when our local chemist ran out of supplies (even though we had a QR pick up code after applying for them online). Luckily, my daughter got a message from one of her local mummy groups to say they were handing them out on the seafront. So I nipped down quick and got another packet.

Phew! All negative.

“What a world we live in,” said my daughter, voicing the thoughts in all our heads.

Still, it’s better than last year when we hadn’t been vaccinated.

But back to lunch. The meal at my daughter and son-in-law’s was, I have to say, far superior to the one at our house! But the highlight was the morning walk along the seafront with six-year-old Rose and four-year-old George.

Actually, it wasn’t a walk at all! It was a roller-skate!

Their Welsh granny (who is absolutely amazing at finding brilliant presents) had given them both roller skates. My daughter had dug hers out from university days and all five of us (including my eldest son) hung onto Rose and George as they careered down the promenade.

We weren’t the only ones!

“Good fun, isn’t it?” remarked a gentleman of advanced years as he zipped past on something that looked like a scooter with extra legs on either side.

Maybe his grandchildren had given him it for Christmas!

“It sounds great,” says a friend of mine wistfully when we have a Boxing Day catch up chat.

Her grandchildren live some way off and they weren’t able to join her this year.  It made me feel guilty for taking about our Christmas. “Don’t,” she assures me. “It was fine. Honestly. We had a Zoom Christmas quiz which the children organised. And I won!”

The prize?

A slap-up lunch when they’re finally able to get together.

As I write this, my little family have gone off to Wales to visit my son-in-law’s family while my eldest son is at their place, in charge of the cats. (Rose and George  had a great time, having their uncle to stay. The three of them played all kinds of games although their favourite involved slinging a sock on top of a curtain rail and then trying to knock it down with another sock! Isn’t it funny how the simplest things can bring the greatest pleasure?)

Then later this week, they’re off to visit my first husband and his wife.

It’s all spaced out far better than when I was a young mum. My divorced parents and grandmother and mother-in-law all lived within five miles of each other. But none of them could agree on a joint gathering so we ended up going to four different houses, starting early in the morning and getting home at night.

Years later, I feel exhausted at the very thought of it. Thank goodness our “blended” family is more flexible.

But right now, something else is on my mind. In fact, I’m sitting at my computer with my finger poised on “Buy”.

(This is despite the fact that I am going to have to cut back my spending after all the Christmas presents.)

That’s right! You’ve guessed!

I’ve just splashed out on a pair of skates which, according to the despatch note, will be here next week.

Well, if you can’t beat them, join them!  I used to love roller skating as a child so we’ll see if I can still do it.

I’ll keep you posted!

Problem of the Week

Every week, we try to help you solve a problem. This week’s “worry” comes from Anne in Buckinghamshire.

“I’ve got two lots of grandchildren from different children. One set (the younger ones) always sends me thank you letters. But the others (who are teenagers) either don’t say anything or give me a quick thank you on the phone. I almost feel like not giving them anything next year. Am I being unfair?”

Jane Corry says:

“Oooh, Anne. This will ring bells with lots of readers! My grandchildren always send hand-made thank you-cards. I like to think this is because my daughter (and her husband) were brought up to do this so they’ve carried on the tradition. But a lot of families feel that a text or a phone call is enough.

“It might help to look at the bigger issue here. Would it cause offence if you told the parents concerned that you’re a bit hurt? If so, is it worth damaging the relationship?

“The reaction might well depend on whether the parents will see it as a timely reminder of good manners or a criticism of them and their children. One never knows!

“One alternative is to casually drop something into the conversation. You might mention you’re about to write some thank you letters to people who’ve sent you presents or that you’ve just received some lovely thank you cards. They might take this as a subtle hint. Or they might not.

“I think you have to make your own decision on this. At the end of the day, ‘manners might maketh man’ as ther old saying goes. But I reckon that keeping the peace is pretty important when it comes to family life.”

Grandparent of the Week – Jacqui, 72

Jacqui is a former publican and then ran a guest house in Truro. She and her husband Colin, 80, have eight grandchildren, ranging from seven years to 25. Jacqui and Colin taught them all to swim!

Jacqui and her family“Some of my grandchildren live in Devon and the others in Wales. We generally try to get together at least every six to eight weeks. One of our daughters has a small holding locally and so we congregate there. We have great fun. The family is growing all the time, especially now some of the older grandchildren have got partners.

“During the virus, we didn’t meet up as a bubble but we had a Sunday evening Zoom as well as competitions and games and fancy dress and all sorts of silly things that kept us really connected as a family.

“We’re not worried about catching the virus from the children. We are fairly seasoned and have a philosophical view. Let’s seize the day and enjoy what’s on offer. Having said that, we wouldn’t go to a music festival.

“Our grandchildren who are over 18 all have their own What’s App so they keep in touch with each other. They tell me about some of the things that are going on. One of my grandsons is in the army and he is posted away. One of my granddaughters is at university. She is very close to her 12-year-old cousin (one of my other granddaughters) and they talk about general stuff and school.) I find great joy that the next generation in our family want to keep in touch.

“The younger ones are very involved with football and rugby. My 12-year-old granddaughter plays football for both the town and school! Three of them are members of the Sea Scouts.

“They call me ‘Gran’. Originally I didn’t want to be called that but it stuck!

“I love being a granny but in my experience, you get older and wiser the more grandchildren you have. When one of my grandsons was born very prematurely in Germany, I flew out to help with the other grandson.

“I love being doing the out of ordinary things too! I want to show them that there’s fun to be had and that they shouldn’t get weighed down by life. Colin and I spent some time touring in our motor caravan. We were in Morocco for my 70th and the family came out to help us celebrate. Every year, we have a family summer party.

“I think it’s wonderful that my children have matured into parents with children of their own. We’re so proud of them all.”

Love reading?

Jane Corry’s new Penguin family drama, THE LIES WE TELL, is the story of Sarah who will do anything to stop her teenage son from going to prison. Even if it means breaking the law herself. You can buy it from supermarkets, bookshops and online at https://linktr.ee/thelieswetell.

The Lies We Tell cover

Allison Hay

I joined the "My Weekly" team thirteen years ago and, more recently, "The People's Friend". I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazines. I manage the digital content for the brands, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters.