(Written 15th January 2010, post-dated 27th December 2009)
Our family is not like other families. Most children abhor the idea of spending time with their parents, let alone uncles and aunties they hardly ever see, and anything family-related at Christmas time is definitely out. Not in our family. Every year (if we can) we all meet up shortly after Christmas for “Draisey Day”. We usually descent on my uncle and auntie’s house in Woking, spending the whole day eating, playing silly games, playing music, and generally catching up on the past year or so. And it’s one of the highlights of my year.
This year was no exception, not least because we brought with us a portable people-magnet – a little baby boy. More than that, Samuel is the first of the new generation, which makes him even more significant. I’m pleased to report that he lived up to the hype, and thrilled everyone the whole time we were there. He was passed from person to person, he fed when he had the opportunity, he slept very little, and he kept everyone amused without doing a single thing. What a gift it is to be a baby. Shame he’s too young to realise it.
We drove up to Woking in the morning and arrived around lunchtime, just in time to be fed, which is always a good bit of timing. Uncle Mark brought out his traditional array of party games, all of which were cringe-worthy and unnecessary, but we did them anyway and thoroughly enjoyed it all. By mid-afternoon I was lagging a bit, so I went and got some sleep for a couple of hours – that’s not something I would have been able to do before Samuel was born! Sleep? In the middle of the day? When there are lots of things happening and lots of people making lots of noise? In an unfamiliar bed? In jeans? But apparently I was tired enough to overcome all those obstacles. That’s what a baby does to you.
Another part of the Draisey Day tradition is the music. With a family of musicians, we’re not too dissimilar to the Von Trapp family. Pretty much everyone plays something. And if they can’t play, they can certainly sing along. Most years we have a Christmas carol sing-along, where we take turns on the various instruments (because we’re all multi-talented) and muddle our way through whatever carol gets mentioned next. This year it was a bit different, because our musical contribution took the form of a jazzed up jam session. At first it was just Peter and I on the piano, but soon everyone else joined in too. We had a minimum of two people on the piano, a keyboard providing a drum backing, a viola, an alto sax, a couple of guitars, and even a little hand drum. And everyone else watched and danced and listened and recorded it on camcorders. It’s possibly one of the most fun jam sessions I’ve ever been part of.
Overnight it was rather cold, on account of the heating system playing up. Samuel took a little persuasion to get to sleep, but we managed. And in the morning we headed back home to get some rest. It’s not exactly been a quiet Christmas, and we’ve not been endowed with sleep and energy, but we wouldn’t have missed it for the world.