Just before I went upstairs after the fabulous lunch I remembered to check the set-up for dinner, and I am glad I did. I had spent a lot of time on the seating plan. Ten years ago I learned from the lady who was doing my dinner that the object of celebration should by no means sit at the top of the table – which anyone would say was the most appropriate – but in the middle, because then you were just half as far away from both ends than if you were sitting at the top. So I had started there, and I wanted the cousins of matching age to sit together, because they don't meet as often as I would like them to; and I had to place a familiar adult beside the youngest children, and then the usual: alternate gender, don't place spouses together, pay attention to seniority. I had put a lot of thought into it, and it turned out there were two tables. Hence I spent most of the time between lunch and dinner working on a new seating plan. I am sure there is some clever software for this, but I didn't have time to explore. The little time left, I admired my festschrift and checked Facebook for birthday greetings. I know that Facebook prompts friends about birthdays, but you still need to make an effort of clicking on the link and writing “Happy birthday”, and most friends wrote more substantial messages and appended pictures and music. Small tokens of attention, but oh so much joy.
Then I finally put on the outfit I had bought for the occasion.
There was another party in the bar where welcome drinks were served, and I wonder what they thought when all my children and grandchildren started arriving, and there were noisy discussions about who wanted what kind of soft drink and who was old enough to have a taste of the real stuff. Once again, I had said “No presents”, but the kids had warned me that they wouldn't listen to this nonsense. So there were some presents, and there was another big surprise, of which I must tell in detail.
One bunch of grandchildren was discussing what to give granny for her birthday. The five-year-old suggested jewellery, blouse, skirt, scarf, shoes, handbag. The seven-year-old said firmly: “No, Granny wants a smartphone”. They looked at her with doubt, but she was adamant. “Have you forgotten? When we went to visit Granny in England, and she kept looking at the boys' phones and asking what they could do, and she said she wanted maps and star charts and bus timetables”. Isn't she a clever kid? The father consulted his little brother (who had been nagging me for years about a smartphone), and that was decided. Technical support was promised when Julia and Pontus came to visit us the next week. Don't misunderstand me. All the other presents were lovely, each in its own way, but this is such a sweet story.
The rest was more or less predictable, but still wonderful. Even the youngest grandchildren behaved well and enjoyed the special children's meal, and the older ones realised that they could talk to each other live rather than through their phones. The family chorus sang the song that Staffan had written for me, and the two sisters sang “When I am sixty-four” reading the lyrics from their phones. Between main and dessert we asked the waitress to take a family photo. Then we retreated to the bar for postprandials, and the youngest kids started dosing off which the parents completely ignored. And I thought how clever we were to stay at the same place where the dinner was. Because when everybody left we merely had to go upstairs.
To be continued.
To be continued.