People often make the assumption that because I’m a first-generation Greek-American, my family life must resemble the circus-like daily drama as seen in the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” several years ago. Yet in my case, I came from parents who each were without siblings to begin with and beyond that scarce on aunts and uncles. In the end, by my teenage years, my family consisted of myself, my mother and my younger brother and sister.
Having shared that information I must quickly follow up and make it crystal clear that I love my small family fiercely and although we have our differences as all kin do, I’m ever grateful that I have them to share the burdens and joys of this earthly existence. At the same time, as I approach my tenth wedding anniversary this month, I’m also overwhelmed with gratitude for the family I inherited through marriage to my husband. I refer in heart and mind to my in-laws as “in-loves” since that is how I received them from the moment I said “I do”.
This sentimental post comes on the coattails of a long road trip that my husband and son took up north to gather with the families that get together every two years in a different location to celebrate our family as a whole and as individuals. Some years we can make it and others perhaps not, but I always endeavor to try especially now that my 2-year-old can truly appreciate the fun he can have with his countless cousins. So far extended in either direction is this family that it’s actually easier to just refer to many as our “cousins-in-loves” since we have no idea how complicated the family chart could get in connecting it with proper titles.
As we relaxed by a lake and chatted with family members both young and old and in the middle of the rat race such as my husband and I, we found common ground to share as well as new experiences to swap since we last all saw each other. My heart continued to burst every time I saw my son enjoying playing with the other children, all his family that he’s inherited from his parents. It’s the best wealth in the world that we can leave to him even after we may leave this earthen plane.
If you’re part of a family that has reunion get-together and haven’t been yet, I highly recommend it. Perhaps you may need to spear head such an event if it’s never been done in your family clan.
I know there are those that would rather skip the intermingling with their family because of issues like “Omigosh, do we have to listen to Great Uncle So-and-So drone on?”. My only caution is that we shouldn’t let petty annoyances get in the way of touching base with extended family because there is a priceless wealth in what we can learn about ourselves, our spouses and our children by listening to the oral histories of family. Note: Of course, in cases of domestic abuse and other such tragedies, it is acceptable to avoid contact such as I must in the case of my paternal side.
Life is full of so many hectic days that we often lose touch with our families–no matter that we have iPhones and e-mail and whatever the latest networking technology is. Family reunions make us literally carve out time to just dwell among the team made up of blood and marriage ties that weaves a tapestry richer than money could ever buy.