“We should stay in touch with our family more often, shouldn’t we?” Out of the mouths of children, eh? 2018 is very much our ‘Year of Family’ and our Easter weekend only reinforced that.
How was your Easter? With the four-day weekend and the school holidays, for many of us it’s a time for family. That may mean a simple gathering at home or maybe heading overseas for a getaway.
For us, Easter meant bringing together both family and friends. And the entire EU supply of chocolate eggs. Nothing sums up the true meaning of Easter like overpriced chocolate, right?
2018 has already been a big ‘family’ year for us, with our holiday to Australia and Malaysia in February. Even now, nearly two months after we got back, the kids regularly talk misty-eyed about meeting their extended family in both countries for the first time. They clamour for more frequent Skype calls. And they want to know when we will go back next – or conversely when our relatives will visit us.
This Easter was particularly good in terms of seeing both sides of our family. On Heather’s side, we hosted her aunt Jeneane and uncle Peter. They had been in the Netherlands to attend a 100th birthday party – how cool is that? – and stopped off with us for a week on their way back.
They have visited the UK numerous times before so cramming in tourist outings wasn’t at the top of the agenda. (Just as well, given how miserable the weather was!) But it did mean spending lots of time with the kids, who lapped up the attention. And a trip into London for the world’s biggest dim sum lunch, just because that’s how we roll.
Of course, going to London meant seeing Grandma and Grandpa, my brother Peter – yes, there are two ‘Uncle Peters’ – and also their one UK-based Malaysian cousin, who we only see infrequently because she lives and works 220-odd miles away.
So it was a particularly ‘family’ Easter for us – and one the kids consequently loved. We’re hoping to receive two or three more sets of family visitors before the year is out. Fingers crossed.
Most years we do an Easter egg hunt on Sunday morning with a few of our local friends. We’re all connected by an accident of timing. Our eldest children were born in a three-month window around the end of 2007 and bonds were formed via ante-natal classes, baby/toddler activities and nurseries/pre-schools.
As the kids have grown over the years and younger siblings have been added to the mix, the annual egg hunt has grown from a back garden activity to a full-on waterproofs-and-wellies tramp through the woodlands, complete with hand-drawn maps. Of course, the kids loved it. And once they had consumed some of their chocolate gains, they hared around the field playing tag and generally catching up.
In many cases, life being what it is, they may not see each other for months on end. And yet when they do get back together, it’s like they were never apart. Cue lots of discussions about how “we really must do this more often …”
And that’s the challenge that faces us all. Our kids are at different schools and have developed a wider circle of friends. And they are constantly busy with various extra-curricular activities. With the best will in the world, their time (and ours!) is finite.
Making time for them to see each other more often is one of those things that is easier said than done. The same is true for trying to stay in touch with their extended family, living in multiple locations around the world. But weekends like this Easter are a reminder that it’s worth the effort – both for the kids and for us.