My mother was big on family. Huge. She was one of four children whose mother was one of five children. I grew up knowing all of them, including my grandmother’s siblings. And their children. And their children.
Our family is dysfunctional, because let’s face it, everyone’s family has a little dysfunction. If our families were all perfectly adjusted, how boring life would be. But I grew up in the warm embrace of grandparents, aunt and uncles, and cousins who are more like siblings.
My ex-husband and I raised our three kids the same way. They grew up spending every birthday and major holiday with family. My kids are friends with their cousins and genuinely look forward to seeing aunts and uncles. My mother-in-law, in her eighties, is still the family matriarch. And even though I am not legally a member of the family, I know I could go to any one of them in a crisis. That’s real family.
My daughter now has a family of her own and carries on that tradition of kin that her grandmother instilled in me, and I in her.
My grandson has all four grandparents within a five-minute drive and we all take advantage of this blessing. I don’t think more than a day or two goes by between the baby’s visits with extended family. He is learning his great-grandmother’s legacy of family early in life.
My grandson and I have begun our own family ritual. Every Sunday, while my son-in-law is at work, my daughter, my grandson, and I have an outing together. Whether it’s a walk in the park or a trip to the store is unimportant. It is the lesson of the importance of family that I hope continues with the newest generation of our family.