For your reading pleasure, here are the things he has yet to come to;
1) EASTER SUNDAY
This year, the Lad is coming to the afternoon part of this, where we shall be having a jolly civilised tea at the English Grandparents' house. I might have a sore tummy by that point but I will probably appear quite sane. There will be practically no sign of that morning's carnage. What happens on Eater Sunday mornings is this. Me and BTB (Brat Teenage Brother) grab whatever excuse for a pair of pjs we can, a pair of our dad's shoes each (for some reason he is the only person whose shoes are ever available) and shuffle out into the back room. We're not allowed to face the window, because then we'd inevitably spot some of the eggs and that would be cheating, although BTB always tries (sneaky git). Then Mum and Dad open the door and we shove each other out of the way and the hunt begins. Dad by this point will have hidden a variety of eggs all over the place, and every year he gets sneakier. One year, he tricked us by just putting all the eggs in a black binliner on the decking and we assumed it was just a bag of rubbish, so were looking for a good hour before we found the chocolatey goodness. It used to be that I would get most of the eggs, I am the older child after all and BTB used to be about half my size, so I could reach the high hiding places that he couldn't. Now unfortunately he hulks over me by a good foot and is ridiculously strong. He is not above picking me up and putting me outside a room if I annoy him (this has happened before) so now I have to be extra sneaky at the Easter egg hunt. When we've found them all, we divvy them up (there's always a fight over the caramel and crunchy ones and no one ever wants the kit kat and yorkie eggs) then BTB hides all his in the freezer (he likes his so hard you might break your teeth on them), and I go up to my room and create a sort of Easter egg shrine. Inevitably, chocolate is chosen over breakfast. The festivities sometimes continue with a string of sneaky thefts and retaliations (i.e. BTB becomes convinced that I have stolen one of his eggs from the freezer, so he sneaks in and takes off the top egg from my pyramid, I find out and go and take his last crème egg and eventually it decends into all out chocolate war. Meanwhile the parents sit in utter glee that their crime hasn't been discovered, eating the original egg with relish). And the house exists in a hum of sugar high all day.
2) CHRISTMAS EVE AND MORNING
Possibly my family at its most excessive. On Christmas Eve I spend hours cooking the veggie tarts for the next day and prepping the carrots etc in between watching It's a wonderful life which it invariably isn't by that point because I'll be in a foul mood because mum will have been interfering in my cooking technique, BTB will be sulking because he wants to be upstairs on his playstation, the cat will have shat on the carpet as a crimble treat and the parents will be seriously considering throwing our pressies into the bin (a common catchphrase in our house at the festive time of year is 'I can hear another pressie falling off Santa's sleigh!') But it's still a very nice atmosphere. Next, we get mildly pissed (the parents on white wine, BTB on cider and me on amaretto) and hang up the stockings, pop the mince pie on a plate and the sherry in a glass by the fire, put a carrot in the garden for the reindeer and if anyone so much as suggests santa isn't real, they get a pillow thrown at their head. Then we all go to bed at about 2am and me and the brother try to listen to see exactly how heavy dad's tread is when he goes downstairs, as if that would tell us how many gifts he's carrying. Eventually we force ourselves to try and get some sleep. Invariably, I wake up at 7am and have to be the one the attempt to rouse BTB (I say attempt because he sleeps like a large log) then we both go join the parents in their room. They've usually been up since 5 and are on their 3rd cup of tea so complain about how long us kids took. Dad says something about how he heard a bit of noise in the night and how he hopes those naughty reindeer haven't trashed the garden again like last year. BTB rolls his eyes while Mum and I giggle excitedly. We all go down stairs in our dressing gowns (me-mad red patterned terrytoweling monstrosity that I suspect makes me look like my gran's carpet on a bad day, Dad-a very soft black one that usually has a bit of breakfast on it, Mum-a very elegant puce satin thing, very Bette Davis in All about Eve, BTB-a ratty old bit of cloth with no tie, meaning he just sort of clutches it around him like a dirty old man). We open the door to the living room and BTB and I yell 'SANTA'S BEEN!' then go sit next to our pressies while Dad makes the next batch of tea. Niall opens one of his first (being the youngest) then me, then back to him etc. Once our gift lust is sated, the parents open their presents from us (badly wrapped but painstakingly chosen from the lists they gave us) and there's generally a slight edge of competition there about who bought the best ones. Then they open their gifts to each other; VERY expensive, usually brought at Selfridges, Mum cries because Dad's so thoughtful and gets her stuff like new wedding rings, Dad gets very excited over fishing/scuba diving gear that none of the rest of us understand. We grab binliners and shove all of the rubbish into them and then descend on the breakfast table like ravenous beasts, made delirious by all the generosity.
3) FAMILY WEDDINGS
The Lad is actually coming to one of these next year (if my family hasn't scared him off by then). Here's the list of what he should expect, since it is the Irish side.
- Tears, and lots of them.
- People I don't know the names of telling me how much like my Dad I look
- More food than you could shake a stick at (normally mainly meat, but thank god the couple are veggies so there will be something I can eat!)
- Alcohol. So much alcohol.
- Irish dancing (Shoe the Donkey is a particular family fave) which will end with someone spraining their ankle but being slightly too pissed to realise till the next day. This will probably be me.
- More booze.
- My Uncle Mike doing something Hilarious. At one wedding there was a Mexican band, so he gave out sombreros and spicy Pringles. BTB still has his somewhere.
- My younger cousins wanting to dance with me a lot.
- Hiding from younger cousins at the bar behind a glass of spiked lucozade.
- People telling us it will be us next, us hiding at the bar behind two glasses of spiked lucozade.
- Mum and I dancing around our handbags.
- Dad and Mum having a teenage smooch on the dancefloor, me going 'Awwww', BTB making vomit noises.
- Filthy jokes.
- The older generations talking about who they know who have died recently.
- More Booze.
- A very big hangover the next day.
My other side of the family haven't had any weddings that recently, but it's normally my 2nd and 3rd cousins in Kent. If we go to one there, he should expect:
- Flowery dresses and burton suits.
- A strong theme of pastel colours
- Meat heavy 3 course meals, or a buffet of various quiches and chicken nuggets
- Agadoo and the Music Man played by a DJ in a Hawaiian shirt on repeat. At some point in the evening there will also be that delightful 90s hit Who Let The Dogs Out.
- Gin and Tonics.
- Staying at The Walpole Bay hotel (Pure awesome living museum hotel, very underpriced, Tracey Emin goes there a lot)
- My parents having a smoochy dance to a Dirty Dancing/Titanic song.
- Uncle Eddie getting his Kit off to 'You sexy thing'
- People I'm quite sure I've never met telling me how much I look like my Dad.
- Not knowing the bride and groom's names (I have SO many cousins and I'm outrageously bad at staying in touch, but they all seem to know mine!).
- A swollen belly from too many cheese sarnies the next day.
Reader, I would carry on, but I can't reveal all my family traditions, as then the boyfriend would defo run for the hills screaming.
So for now, tarrah!