One of my Mum’s best mates turned 60 recently.
Like most people who turn 60 (or me when I turned 30), she didn’t like the idea one bit. She refused to have a big party, and her husband had booked a table for two at their local restaurant.
When the actual day arrived, she felt pretty gloomy. (Which reminds me of the day my Mum turned 60 – although she’s usually the most upbeat person I know, she was pretty low. She half-joked she would go down to the market to “see if they sell some magic powder to make you look and feel younger”. I still laugh to imagine what powders she might have been offered…)
As every woman knows, just because you say “I don’t want any presents” doesn’t mean you actually meant it. For all the wanting not to make a fuss, my Mum’s friend felt a bit deflated and lonely. Especially as her husband had some business to attend that day, and my Mum had things to sort out in town, so no one was around for company; her only plan was to lunch with her elderly mother.
The dreaded day was turning out to be just another day.
I’m not sure if she felt a bit wronged by the entire universe, but she sure felt wronged by her husband. Self-pity can make the best of us a little bitchy sometimes, so she phoned my Mum to complain about him – had he cared a little more, he’d have arranged to make her day more special that going to the stupid local for dinner!
Meanwhile, said husband spent his day “away” smuggling food and drinks into my parents’ kitchen down the road, in order to cook a big party meal unnoticed.
He planned the whole stealth operation so well that she didn’t suspect any of it.
So when the evening came and she was ready for dinner at the local (coat, scarf, had and gloves, checking her watch as they were going to be late), she grew increasingly annoyed that he wasn’t ready yet. What too him so bloody long? “What shirt shall I wear? Does it go with this tie?” he asked, as if he usually even noticed.
Of course she didn’t know he was just playing for time, because the guests had been delayed.
It wasn’t until they were finally ready to lock the front door – by now in full grumpy mode – that she heard someone call out greetings from the garden.
She turned round to see familiar faces, a handful of loved ones inexplicably smiling to her, bearing bottles of wine and dishes in casseroles… including her children who looked like they had just dropped by for dinner, even though they live hours away.