All I wanted for the four-day Easter break was one day with the family. I said to the teenagers do what you like every other day but Sunday will be a family day and I’ve organised an Easter Egg hunt at 8am, church at 9.30am and a family lunch at 12.30. And there was some scowling like they had been cursed with a most unreasonable mother but I insisted saying, ‘You have three other days to do your own thing, I’m only asking for one day over Easter’. And there was more heaving and sighing and then I said, ‘Knock yourselves out, just be home on Sunday’.
And I shouldn’t have said that to Archie because he takes things literally.
I didn’t see the teenagers on Good Friday or Easter Saturday unless they were flying in for a change of clothes or a quick ‘raid-the-fridge’ session or a ‘Can I just have’ which means ‘Open your wallet’.
The teenagers have taught me how to sleep with one eye open so at 3am Easter Sunday when Archie still wasn’t home I phoned him but there was no answer. Then I sent him a text message asking, ‘Are you on your way home?’ but no reply.
I must have shut both eyes at around 5am and then it seemed just a few minutes later and Alfie was standing beside the bed asking if it was time to start the Easter Egg hunt. That was when a text came in from Archie saying he was on a bus and would be home any minute. Sure enough he bounded through the door with great gusto and then ran around the backyard trying to gather up more eggs than his little brother.
I wondered where he had been. I knew he’d been going into the city because he has a new career. He’s now a busker. He takes his guitar, harmonicas, tambourine, microphone and cords and leads and buses into the city to meet up with another busker who brings a beat-box and a car battery. Apparently, if you plug your cords and leads into a car battery you get amplification. ‘Essential’, says Archie, ‘because of the noise of the buses’.
As he ran around the backyard teasing his brother I asked, ‘Surely you didn’t busk all night?’
‘Oh no, we finished busking then had dinner in the city and then I caught the train to a mate’s place and stayed the night there’.
The interrogation had to end there because it was time to pile into the car for church. Carl was already there because he was performing. We sat in the pews celebrating Christ is Risen and then it was time for the children to leave the service because they were going to cook in the kitchen. Then Carl performed How Great Thou Art and sang it Elvis style because it’s good to celebrate Christ’s resurrection with a bit of Elvis. That was when I noticed Archie was asleep. He slept through his father’s entire performance.
Then a member of the congregation got up to speak and as she did the fire alarm sounded. Clearly the children had set the kitchen on fire. It was so loud but Archie didn’t wake up.
He had literally knocked himself out and was now in a coma. I had to vigorously shake him to get him to wake up. I yelled, ‘Archie, we have to evacuate the building, it’s on fire.’
‘What, what?’ he said all confused.
‘Can you hear the siren Archie? The building is on fire.’
I exited the building with a dazed Archie by my side and we spilled out on to the pavement and watched the next bit of excitement as the fire trucks arrived and all the firemen jumped out with all their gear including oxygen tanks and axes and hoses. That’s when Carl asked Archie, ‘What did you think of my performance?’
And Archie said, ‘Have you sung already? You haven’t have you? Did I miss it?’
And I had to explain to Carl that Archie, in an effort to make the most of his three days of freedom, hadn’t yet been to bed.
There wasn’t a fire, some appliance in the kitchen had triggered the alarm. We went back into the church and the children continued pressing grapes and making flat bread brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and rosemary to have with communion at the end of the service. I will hunt down the recipe for that bread and share it with you because it was delicious. It was served warm, straight from the oven. There were Easter Eggs too and some were given to the firemen.
And as for Archie, he slept through the rest of Easter Sunday and woke Easter Monday.
What are ‘family days’ like in your family?