My mom is one of seven kids and, while I didn’t grow up in a big family (just two of us!) I loved the benefits of having a big extended family. I have four cousins born in the same year as me and we were buffered closely by older and younger playmates. Family gatherings consisted of nonstop playing mixed with arguing mixed with making up without adult supervision.
Not only was my mom’s immediate family big and close but her extended family was, as well. We have family gatherings every three years that consist of around 80 people. These have been happening for thirty years and by now, we’re just all cousins. Occasionally we take time to figure out the once- and twice-removed categories, but really, we’re just family.
Even now, it’s interesting to see which cousins I’m closest with and which I see most often. I have a second cousin who lives close with a daughter right between Bea and Elle. We get together fairly frequently, and it’s so cool to see our families interacting in ways I never would have guessed at a reunion twenty years ago.
Bea has a few people whom she calls “aunt” and “uncle,” even though we’re not related and I love that they treat her like their own actual nieces.
I think having access to a big family has broadened my view of family in general. Once the lines start blurring for cousins, why not for close friends, for people who care for us regularly, for our community? I love viewing friends as family.
And, as I think about redemption and what this world could look like, isn’t that the goal? That our friends neighbors are family without any other distinction.
How do you view family? Are you closer with friends or with your actual family?
Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing.