Only 15 once

T turned 15 at the weekend. It wasn’t a lockdown birthday like last year where she saw her friends entirely over zoom and we celebrated by going for a walk (little knowing of course that going for a walk would become somewhat tired in the months that followed). This year she was allowed to see some friends outside in our actual garden which opened up a wealth of opportunities. Oh well no, not a wealth of opportunities just the one of sitting in the garden really. No problem, I thought, we’ll have a firepit and toast marshmallows. Well they will. Depending on numbers I probably won’t be able to go out and see them at any point in case the numbers go over 6. I’ll just have to throw marshmallows at them out of the kitchen window. Or maybe we won’t even need the firepit. They can lark about in the sunshine like the Wednesday before. All good.

We weren’t expecting actual snow.

Fortunately my parents have recently moved near to us and have a gazebo from the last time when we drove 2.5 hours to sit in the garden at their house. We put it up thinking it would keep the snow off at least and put the chairs underneath it. The hail came in sideways. So then we added a tarpaulin on one side, a tent panel on another and a windbreak. There were blankets and hot water bottles and an owl that you put in the microwave that I don’t think has ever had the experience of going round and round before. I made a vat of hot chocolate and then the teenagers arrived and sat talking while it snowed around them. In April.

We lit a barbecue outside for ambient warmth and the smoke blew directly into the gazebo so we let the snow put it out. One friend had three coats on and three pairs of gloves. Another took her coat off within ten seconds of arriving because I don’t think coats are cool.

Because this wasn’t weird enough they then rang their friend who lives five thousand miles away in India on Zoom to play bingo. It’s 35 degrees there so she was in shorts and had the air con on.

Eventually it stopped snowing, raining, sleeting and hailing and we bravely moved the gazebo away to let them light the fire pit and toast marshmallows. At this point I stopped looking out of the window as I was absorbing sugar just watching them. There wasn’t enough sugar so we had birthday cake. They didn’t stop talking for hours. Then they went home and we cleaned marshmallows off the seat cushions with kitchen spray.

You are only 15 once. I expect you only celebrate in a gazebo in the snow in April once too. Some of the memories from this hideous year have been good ones at least.

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