Today was the day.
In Carousel Boutique, Rarity had just finished with Applejack's mane, making her practically unrecognizable as a farmer. Twilight Sparkle stood at the center of town, commanding the forces of weather with a calm but organized manner. Fluttershy managed to wrangle Rainbow Dash into her dress hours ago, and was even now assisting her in making her way to the barn unseen. Big Mac and Granny Smith were in the south field, caring for some trees, while Apple Bloom sat in the schoolhouse too curious to focus on her lessons. And a stream of visiting ponies found, each and every one of them, greeted by a smiling pink baker, who slipped them all a piece of paper.
As the orb of Celestia the livegiver slowly made its way through the sky, Ponyville itself began to realize that something was going to happen today. It was an extra sense the natives had developed after so many crazed happenings in their small hamlet; the way that some ponies had plans, the way that others seemed to be missing, the influx of foreigners, Applejack in a dress... It was enough. They knew something was going on. And as Pinkie Pie began to bounce around town, sending invites to everypony, they felt that all too familiar feeling of anticipation. Still, the majority of the population waited; whatever crazy shenanigans would occur, they wouldn't occur any faster for interference.
Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, and Applejack all arrived at Sweet Apple Acres without incident. The two in dresses had glowered at each other, silently entering the barn together to begin the last minute preparations. The animal caretaker had, after a moment of looking around awkwardly, flown back home... only to discover Pinkie Pie waiting with a maniac expression and find herself roped into an informal sentry duty. Rainbow Dash's identically named cousin, meanwhile, began leading the stream of visitors through the streets; Rarity and Twilight watched them pass with knowing looks.
And now, at last, they arrived at the barn. Now, at last, the true purpose of their presence would be known....
"How many relatives do you have, Dash?" Applejack was staring at the increasing crowd that was still growing ever larger.
"Well... there's my six brothers and sisters, seven cousins from aunt Spectrum, and five from aunt Chroma... I think three of Chroma's kids have married, so that's two and three and one kids from them... Oh, yeah, my big big bro over there divorced recently, his wife was just the worst, but he's got custody of his four kids. And big sis over there is pregnant again, geeze, she... sleeps around a lot, but she's got two fillies already and I guess she's a good mom to them." The pegasus tapped her hoof on the ground. "...Oh yeah! Aunt Spectrum's kids are all married, except Rainbow and Cumulus. But only four of them have kids, so that's... another sixteen... Hey look, Big bro over there brought a date, who'd have thunk it."
Applejack rapidly did the mental calculations. "So that's fourteen from Chroma, twenty six from Spectrum, fourteen from your mom... add the six pairs on top--Is your grandpa still alive?"
"One of them. Not Grandma's husband."
"...Sixty three?" The farmer considered her calculations. "Hmm. Sixty three. Not as big as the Apple clan, but pretty close."
"Oh darling, hello!" Rainbow Dash the earth pony walked up to Applejack. "I must say I was not expecting to see you here, but I can see it was quite worth it. You look simply dashing in that outfit. Did miss Rarity design it for you?"
"Why yes! She was quite helpful in creating this lovely piece of clothing." The farmer smiled. "Thank you very much for your well paid compliments. I do hope you find the barn here to be fitting of such a large soiree?"
"Well, to be honest, yes! True, it is a tad rustic for the tastes of my mother but," she leaned in conspiratorially, "my mother is quite frankly a diva."
"I do declare, such scandal! To hear a daughter talk like that about her own mother!"
Dash looked between the two of them. "Okay, fine. AJ, you've proven you can be high class, but seriously you're freaking me out."
Applejack flittered her eyelids. "Oh? I am so sorry, I am only presenting myself as you decreed was appropriate for this gathering. Did I misinterpret your request?"
"I asked that you not be here at all," Dash growled.
Rainbow's eyes flickered between the two friends. "I'm sorry, is something wrong?"
"Oh, no. Dashiel is simply feeling nervous about having one of her 'rough country bumpkin' friends present in such a unique gathering." Applejack gave Rainbow an apologetic smile. "It's merely a personal drama, I assure you, I doubt you have to worry about it."
Dash groaned. "Please, AJ, don't act like this. This isn't you. It's creepy. And don't call me Dashiel," she added as an afterthought, "only my family should call me that."
"Ooooooh, is that what this is about?" Rainbow smiled mischievously. "Well, don't you worry, Dashiel, I shall endeavor to ensure that your compatriot is not too overblown by the events which are coming forthwith. Come, miss Applejack, I have something I need to discuss with you in private; let us take to yonder snack table and continue our conversation free from the prying ears of my dear cousin."
"My, do I detect intrigue?" Applejack grinned. "Do please lead the way!" The two of them meandered off, leaving the pegasus somewhere between glaring and confused.
After a moment, Rainbow Dash glanced at the informal stage set up in the back of the barn. Her grandma was already walking up the steps, smiling and shaking hooves with well wishing descendants. With a resigned sigh, the weathermare adjusted her regalia, making sure her tiara was straight, and made her way to a position next to the old mare.
"...let's get this over with..."
Her grandma raised an eyebrow, but didn't comment on her tone. Instead, she lightly pinged a wineglass with her wing. The conversations around the room died down slowly, every eye looking upon them.
After a moment, the older mare cleared her throat. "Thank you all for attending my ninety seventh birthday anniversary. It is certainly good to see your lovely faces..." She adjusted her glasses. "Well, those that I can see anyway."
There were a few chuckles.
"About sixty three years ago... give or take a month, something very precious came into my hooves. And I loved it so much that I made two more of the dang things. Now, here I stand, and I see those three things have not only made their own bundles of joy but a few of those went ahead and started making their own! I believe it is safe to say that I am really freaking old."
Rainbow Dash blinked. This was... this wasn't what she was expecting at all. She gave her grandmother a look of confusion, but the old mare didn't seem to notice.
"That's what this really is, kiddos, a celebration of family. The fact that I'm the oldest one here, ha, that's just an excuse! Not that I mind the presents," she mused, "or the cake... or the food... but they're all besides the point. The point is, we're all in this together. So let's all support each other, no matter what path we take!"
The applause was polite, but genuine. The old mare held up a hoof.
"Thank you... and now, as is tradition, I turn the speechmaking duties over to our host. Fillies and Gentlecolts, please lend your ears to Rainbow Dashiel Silverhoof, fifteenth heir to the duchy of Cloudsdale."