Dublin here I cooooome! Every year for a weekend before Christmas myself, my three sisters and my mother leave our respective domestic situations behind us and, via trains (3), planes (that’s me) and automobiles (1) converge in an olde world hotel in Dun Laoighaire, a suburban seaside town about 12 kilometers south of Dublin city. We’ve done this in a few other cities along the way (Barcelona and London) but once we tried Dun Laoighaire we didn’t want to budge. Our schedule over the weekend is not set in stone and we do vary it as events in our lives unfold. Now nephews attending Dublin universities pop in on us for brunch on Sunday. Elderly aunts will give new meaning to decking the halls this visit as they will arrive with their own packs of playing cards for bridge and rummy games in the expansive marble foyers. A few years ago our hotel package included a treatment at the spa. At that time, as mother to a toddler who wasn’t sleeping, I chose to have a dry floatation. The half hour in darkness, spent enveloped in warm water while remaining dry, is said to be worth a night’s sleep. And I knew I’d need my stamina for three days spent with four women catching up on news, sharing fashion and parenting tips with mammoth shopping trips and lashings of wine thrown in.
This year will be extra special as we’ve invited my father to join us. He turns eighty next week and doesn’t want a fuss, especially following, so closely, the Golden wedding anniversary celebrations back in September. There’ll be a cake and gift presentations but just amongst the six of us. My Dublin-based sister has made a dinner reservation for our party at an exclusive restaurant for the Saturday night. And we will be dressed to the nines! We revert back to our teenage selves as we gather in one of the bedrooms to pull together our outfits, share perfumes and apply make-up. My mother ( who wouldn’t like me to reveal her age here – let’s leave it at “a contemporary of my dad’s”) is just as involved. She’s maintained her love of clothes and no doubt will have chosen something glamorous from her wardrobe to pack in her suitcase.
We need to be mindful that there is a man amongst us so there’ll be less of the preening than usual. Though having spent so much of his years in a house full of women, he knows what to expect. Dad, I hope you’ve packed your ear plugs!