Happy Families

One of my earliest memories is playing ‘Happy Families’, a game with cards depicting the various tradesmen… Mr Bun the baker, Mr Bones the butcher…

We had to collect a complete ‘happy family’ – 4 cards… e.g. Mr Potts the painter, Mrs Potts the painter’s wife, Master Potts the painter’s son, Miss Potts the painter’s daughter. A tidy and convenient family.

A set of 4?

I had a problem… My family consisted of Mum, Dad, my two older brothers and me. Was that a happy family? A tidy set? And Gran lived with us… and then my younger brother was born…

Last night we went to Jack and Brenda’s Golden Wedding Anniversary do. It was an excellent event – conversation, food, music, laughter… and their family? 3 sons, 1 daughter and various assorted grandchildren. A happy family, but not a set of 4.

Missing Cards?

My two older brothers didn’t have the same Mum as me. She’d died and Dad married again. For my brothers there was a missing card…

Yesterday I talked to 3 friends who have a ‘missing card’ from their family. Bereavement means that the card won’t be found behind the sofa or under a book… Happy Families is difficult with a card missing.  

Mr, Mrs, Master & Miss?

I was brought up in post-war Britain… Mrs Carmen came to our church and was known as ‘the lady who fosters and adopts black children’. There was no Mr Carmen. Hers was a close and caring but different and distinctive family…

I was chatting to Chloe yesterday. Chloe has a Dad, Mum and brother. A ‘happy family’!…?

…Chloe lives with her Dad, who usually presents as Emma; her Mum, who’s blind, remarried but lives with her boyfriend; her brother has mental ill-health issues, gets very angry and has wrecked Chloe’s bedroom…


…God’s repeatedly referred to as the father to the fatherless, the defender of widows, the protector of foreigners… the God of missing cards, non-standard families… happy or sad.

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