Our View From Here

Perspectives of Five Women

A Tale of Two Families

on November 19, 2010

Here’s my family related post that I was supposed to do last week.

I grew up with a small nuclear family – mom, dad, sister, and me. Most of the time it was just the four of us. When it came to major holidays, we’d add in my maternal grandparents, and on occasion my mother’s brother and his equally small nuclear family. That was as big as we ever got for any occasion, so for a good portion of my childhood, that’s all I ever knew.

In 1994, however, we moved from the Seattle area to Pennsylvania. I was halfway through high school when my parents decided to move there, in part because my dad’s family lived there. Now, my dad is the third of eleven children, so I went from nice, small family occasions to often overwhelmingly large ones overnight. Not all of the family still

lived there, but many did and many that didn’t came back for at least Christmas. I remember sitting on the floor of my grandma’s living room on that first Christmas, trying to remember everyone’s name. I saw most of these people so rarely (at that point, maybe twice in my life) that I really struggled to identify who was who and how they were related to me.

What was even weirder was that people recognized my name in that town. I have a fairly uncommon last name, at least uncommon enough that people recognize it and immediately make a connection to someone else they know. I ended up going to the same high school that most of the original 11 siblings went to.  I don’t know how many times a teacher of mine would say,

“Hey, are you related to (insert aunt/uncle/grandma name here)?”  Not just at school, but everywhere I went I had this experience. It was all new to me.  To go from complete anonymity to everyone knowing who you are because of your relations is just strange.

Seafood lasagna - mostly complete, delicious, ...

Image by mschutt via Flickr

My larger family wasn’t close, though. We’d get together for the major holidays (seafood lasagna for Christmas, anyone?), but for the most part, everyone went their own way.  When grandma passed away, the family drifted apart. I moved off to New York where I experienced complete anonymity. You know, I sort of missed having that family around me. Now back on the west coast, and after a parental separation, it’s just me, mom, grandma, and my uncle.  I have a couple cousins around that I don’t see much. I always dreamed of having family holidays, but at this point, I guess I’ll just have to make my own family.

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One response to “A Tale of Two Families

  1. Carolyn says:

    Hey, I know the feeling, I went from big family stuff, and then to our ‘small’ family of 5 (now 4 with Linds in LV) We hardly hear from my family or the Huckabee’s. I kinda miss the chaos and little ones running all over.

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