Broadening Family

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.

On an adventure with "uncle" Steve
On an adventure with “uncle” Steve

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.

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6 thoughts on “Broadening Family

  1. Our family is spread out all over the place. My siblings each live in a different state, plus I have extended family in Wisconsin, Arizona, and Texas. We’ve really leaned on our church family for support. I think it’s great that you’re able to connect with your extended family!

    1. I think that’s what the church (can) do best – provide that support for people who have nowhere else to look. It’s one of the great strengths of church community. Glad you’ve found that in yours!

  2. Great perspective. I come from a small family. I only have two first cousins and we have always lived pretty far from each other. My friends are family too. Visiting from FMF where I’m parked in the 16 spot.

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