the need for a family break
It’s not just the outsiders who need to take a break from the idiosyncrasies of a large family.
The Bureau of Statistics says the average household will soon be two adults, 1.8 children and a cat! The MOTH (Man of the House) looked pretty relaxed about the direction society was taking. “Extended families might disappear,” I said sadly.
“Not if my family has anything to do with it,” he said.
He makes a good point. The McDermotts continue to merrily marry and multiply. The MOTH has three sisters and three brothers and the whole tribe is the size of a small country town. There are aunties and uncles and cousins by the dozen.
A wedding or a funeral, or just Sunday lunch, can see 34 people standing in your kitchen drinking beer and arguing.
Backyard cricket is guaranteed.
“Listen Up! The boundaries are the rose bushes with the big red flowers on one side and those pink and white thingos on the other.”
The pink and white “thingos” are next door’s prizewinning camellias. Next door’s name is “SORRY Mr Saunders!”
Extended families are mini economic units. Need an electrician,a teacher, a nurse, a writer? Here we are. We’ll do the work cheap.
We’re also a subsidiary of the country’s postal service. We carry birthday gifts, baby clothes and fruit cake wherever we go. A phone call to one of us will get you a job reference, a piece of advice, a comfortable bed and a cooked breakfast.
I believe the Guggenheim is keen to acquire our worldclass collection of plastic containers, especially the ones without lids.
The McDermotts are divided into two main groups: The Insiders (the MOTH and his brothers and sisters) and the Outsiders (the people, like me, who married them).
A few weeks ago we met in a town by the sea to spend some time together. Our 43 adult children told us to drive carefully, ring when we got there, and not to argue with each other. “Think about staying even longer,” they insisted.
Some drove north and some drove south, and we met in the middle. A quick drive down Main Street confirmed there were plenty of hotels, bars, restaurants and cafés for us all to disagree on.
At the hotel the Insiders went to check out each other’s rooms. “What are they – 10 years old?” muttered a fellow Outsider. Sibling rivalry dies hard. Who had the big bedroom or the best wardrobe “back in the day” still rankles.
Before dinner we took photos. A kindly waiter offered to help. Insiders first. Outsiders next. Then all the blokes followed by all the women, brothers then sisters, sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law and, for good measure, a chap from the next table who was on his way to the men’s room.
It looked like Harry and Meghan’s wedding but without the hats. Fellow diners were fascinated. The manager was appalled. He blew a whistle and we sat down.
“Wait till he tries to take our orders,” I thought.
The next morning we met at a café on the beach. We ate bacon and egg rolls and drank excellent coffee. We shared photos and baby news.
“Where’s the MOTH?” somebody asked.
Then we spotted him, sitting at a café down the street. He was reading the paper and watching the waves – alone and happy. Soon we’ll all walk down and ruin his day.
We’re family. It’s just what we do.
“He was reading the paper and watching the waves - alone and happy.”