Last night we attempted to launch nine coloured sky lanterns to mark the nine year old's real actual birthday. We'd all seen the wonderful lantern scene in Tangled and been inspired. I had a vivid picture in my head of all nine brightly coloured lanterns drifting up into the twilight in unison while we gazed up at them in wonder. Possibly holding each other's hands.
We went to the park near to our house around six o'clock. It was already pitch black, bone cold and muddy as a swamp on the football pitch. After a couple of vain attempts to light our first lantern, the disposable lighter ran out of fuel and we all had to go to my dad's house to borrow some matches. Then we returned and began the process again.
Match after match was blown out while my husband swore and grew steadily more bad tempered. My hand-holding vision had evaporated by this time and my own mood was um...snappish.
We persisted though and eventually my husband had our first (pale blue) lantern ablaze. He lifted it up towards the night sky and let go.
It rolled across the park at top speed, illuminating the black football pitch like a huge pale blue fireball,
My husband, my mother and both boys gave chase - yelling, shrieking and screaming with fear and laughter. It was one of the funniest things I've ever seen.
After about fifty metres, it rose into the air and (narrowly missing the trees) jerkily disappeared over a clump of houses.
It was nice to have launched one but it wasn't really my vision.
We went to a more sheltered spot in the park and tried to light a second lantern. That was when my husband opened the matchbox upside down and all the matches disappeared into the long black grass.
So we returned to my dad's house for more matches. As we were completely numb with cold by this time, we decided to launch the next one from his back garden.
It was a bright yellow one. And it had a hole in it. Instead of going upwards, it lurched between my dad and my husband in turn - almost setting them both on fire. Then it zoomed towards me and the boys and we all ran indoors screaming. So we didn't see where that one went.
The third lantern was purple. My husband and my dad had honed their technique by now and launched it swiftly. For just a second it seemed as if it would go upwards, but instead it took an enormous bound over the fence and straight into nextdoor's garden. Once more we all darted indoors with gasps of horror.
"What should we do?"
"I don't know!"
"We'll have to go round and tell them we've set light to their garden."
"No way! Let's hide the other lanterns and pretend we don't know anything about it."
And so on.
By the time we'd come out of hiding, the purple lantern had risen up into the topmost branches of a tall tree at the bottom of my dad's neighbour's garden. We watched it blaze and burn and fight to get free from the branches - which was quite a spectacle. I put my arm around my nine year old's shoulders and said, "Listen son, I want you to know we set this tree alight for you."
It was now almost eight o'clock. It had taken us two hours to launch three lanterns. My husband and my dad had one more go. They launched a bright red lantern straight up towards the stars and we all watched it in awe and wonder. It was perfect.
We trooped home in the freezing cold, listening to my son muttering, "But that was only four lanterns...I'm not four years old...I'm nine...I want five more!"
Yeah, well - maybe next year.