This week’s blog is coming to you from a sunny Northern Ireland, where I’m on godmother duty for my adorable nephew’s first communion. And I’m feeling pretty sunny, too: it’s the first time I’ve seen my youngest sister and her family since 2018 thanks to Covid cancelling both our 2020 holiday and our trip over for the niece’s confirmation.
Clutching our shiny new passports, London sister and I met at Heathrow on Friday, planning to do the bag drop, get a nice lunch and relax… what actually happened was a queue for over an hour for the automated bag drop, a mad dash to grab a meal deal to eat on the plane and then we sat near the gate for another hour plus as the flight was delayed and delayed. Making faces at small children and chatting to elderly gents is only entertaining for so long. We finally took off just as we should have been landing at Belfast City, but we did get free crisps on the flight. Just as well as the flight attendant was about to get bitten, I was so hungry by then.
It’s so good to see my little sisters: we sat and chattered all evening, covering everything under the sun, decorating the house as a surprise for my nephew’s big day and blowing up balloons.
She promised me a field full of little lambs and sure enough they are skipping about and making me wonder if I can stash one in my suitcase to come back with. I have begun to make friends with them in preparation, lurking nonchalantly on our side of the hedge and smiling in a non-scary sort of way.
My nephew and niece have thrashed me at Harry Potter trivial pursuits, we’ve cried with laughter at S bouncing T off the bouncy castle (a first communion tradition!) and I did get a bit tearful watching my godson make his first communion.
First Communions are a huge event over here, with all the little boys in grown up suits and the girls in bridesmaid type dresses. They all got to do a reading or another part of the ceremony, and the church was full of proud families as well as many watching via the live feed. There’s a scrum afterwards to take photos on the altar, and the kids make a fortune from relatives.
I was slightly less fond when the combination of too many sausages and a bouncy castle had the inevitable messy result, but it’s been such a lovely day. He and I also had a long and philosophical discussion about confession and what happens if you’ve been really good all week and haven’t got anything to confess: do you make it up and then confess to lying the next week? He tells me he’s probably in credit as he only confessed to throwing a ball at his sister once but he’s actually done it a lot which should keep the priest busy for a few months to come. He’s a very curious child, so the priest will most likely have a lot of questions to answer, starting with ‘why does the Body of Christ taste like cardboard?’ and working up from there.
Hopefully we’ll manage a holiday together this summer so we can all spend more time together – I had the advantage of growing up near all my cousins, but these two and the Things don’t have that luxury.
This morning the new communicant has nagged his dad into taking him to mass again, so we are enjoying the peace and contemplating leftover cake for breakfast. Now excuse me, I’m off to make the most of being with my sisters before flying back later.
What I’ve been reading:
On the Bright Side: The New Secret Diary of Henrik Groen – Henrik Groen
Doctor Who: Tenth Doctor Novels vol 3 (Audible)
The Hanging Valley/Past Reason Hated/Careless Love – Peter Robinson