You know those invites that drop through the letter box. The ones in the really fancy envelopes with the hand written address. They are the sort of mail, which I normally dread.
If it was from a friend, I would have expected it, but this one came through without any warning.
It takes barely a heartbeat to know exactly who it is from. Or what sort of person it is from. They have to be a relation and not a very close one at that. I’d have known years in advance if it was my brothers or sisters and their kids. Someone would have mentioned it if it was a cousin, so it has to be a second cousin or one of those random family members who are always just around and you’re not really sure how they are related.
So when I opened it and saw who it was from, not only did I have to check that they were even my family and not one of my wife’s relatives, but I knew I had to go. It’s annoying but as a family, we have always gone to these things.
So it was with some trepidation that we arrived at K West Hotel & Spa in Shepherd’s Bush. Instead of the sinking feeling of impending doom, normally reserved for such family get-togethers, I turned to my wife with a face of complete surprise at the sight of the venue. It was classy beyond my expectations.
These family gatherings were never normally such grandiose affairs with such a contemporary backdrop. The surprise on my face was mirrored completely by the look on my wife’s. This wasn’t going to be the normal family gathering.
We walked in and were greeted by our whole extended family. What was I meant to say? Something nice I imagined, and apparently then went on to say something different! I couldn’t really help myself and before I knew it, I had blurted it out and it sounded too surprised and shocked.
It was a compliment to all in attendance, but my tone just managed to ruin the meaning. All I did was to say that the venue was much nicer than I had expected them to have chosen. It went down like a lead balloon.
I was promptly marched away by my highly embarrassed wife and sat down near this wonderful modern open-hearth fireplace. Amazingly and to my utter shame, I didn’t pick up my game. When the food came out, I just let out a little ‘wow’, it was under my breath and ridiculously quiet. Or at least that’s what I thought. It turns out that I did it loud enough for every single person in the room to hear my statement of surprise.
Family gatherings have never been a fun experience, but this location was different. Every element of the evening was carried out to perfection. The only thing that ruined the day was my low expectation and the constant over-achieving of the venue. Maybe I’ll learn next time, or maybe my family will and just not invite me again.