It's that happy time of year when we celebrate holidays, vacations and family. You get to decide if, when and how you do these things but some are mandatory... depending on your heritage.
Mr. S and I have been together for 38 years and have had few serious squabbles. Some of the most memorable of those early-on had to do with family reunions. I learned to go alone and by now, we've reached a state of contentment when it comes to family. I truly enjoy being with my BIG family and Mr. S is much closer to his brothers and their families than ever before. The “REUNION” is optional. The option is understood.
I am #1 on the elder cousin scale of 24 members on one side of my family. If you do the math, you will find that we have multiplied in ways that I can no longer comprehend. I think I know who my cousins are... but what about their kids? Their kids? Their kids?
Help! My family has outgrown me, and I don't know what to call them. I don't know why I have to label them. All I know is that these are funny, intelligent, lovable, creative and awesome people that I love. Why does it matter if they are a first, fourth or sixth cousin?
What if somebody got divorced and remarried? What if they divorced and remarried again? Are their children my very own family? Let's get serious. All this folderol about family connections has gotten out of control. How in the world can you love your family if you have to care about how you are related? Why should that matter? What is the difference between a second and third cousin? Who cares? They are my cousins! They are my family.
While we are on the subject of family, years after my father died, my mother married a wonderful man who had two daughters. We have been a family for so many years. Those daughters are my sisters. Why can't I say that? I don't want to “step” them, because I don't know why I should. I love them. We are sisters. The end.
My Little Grandma, my father's mother, loved Mr. S and called him a “horse’s ass.” I kind of liked it and thought it appropriate for their relationship. She always hugged his belly button because it was the only thing she could reach and he deserved the hug. When she reached her 90s, he cut blackberry vines so she could sit at our table and pick berries.
He brought her a stool so she could reach our kitchen counter. There was another for her to get in our pickup. Their relationship was a constant source of giggles and made the days we spent together go by quickly. He often helped to transport her back and forth to her home at Kilchis House. Grandmother, grandson...without all that messy blood relative stuff.
I know that family is important and our connection to each other means more than we give it credit for. In a few weeks, I will talk about Mr. S's search for his own ancestry. I am looking forward to that one. He wants to know where he came from, and this is his Father's Day gift... a perfect match.
In the meantime, I would ask you to say “yes” to the invitations to that family reunion. You never know what you will find there. At the last one I attended, I found great conversation, lots of giggles and more good food than I could imagine.
When I arrived, I started trying to wonder who was who, who was related to whom...and how? It didn't take long for me to understand that it didn't and doesn't matter. What matters is that we still talk to each other... we hug... we laugh and have the courage to ask, “Whose child are you?” That will always be the beginning.
How you are related shouldn't require a number. Cousins are cousins. Sisters and brothers the same. We don't need to number the generations in our families... we need to celebrate them.
From this, and our children, comes the strength of our families and their future. I hope it is bright... and they don't call each other by number. :)