Sunday, February 20, 2011


I have a very large family. I suppose when you start looking at all the tenuous branches that branch out from a family tree, it’s going to get big regardless, but mine still seems to be big. None of us have all that many siblings – there are just a lot of multiple marriages and whatnot that have a tendency to up the number.

Especially since a good part of my family either has the cultural background or the social tendency to count EVERYONE mildly related as family.

For example, I have been extremely lucky in this venture in terms of family. Granted the NC relations aren’t extremely close, but they’re more related than many of the cousins I know very well. When we descended upon Burlington, my great-uncle and great-aunt, and their daughter and grand kids have been nothing but extremely generous and hospitable. My cousin (loose term) has been called upon to manhandle the gas auger for the anchors for the shed, and to pull poor Esmeralda out of the mud (pre-awesome mud tire, of course!).  They opened their house and their hearts to us, and we are forever grateful. And it has been great to have an excuse to get to know them better without some holiday/function/time constraint involved.

Then  there are those members of the family that you don’t ever exactly expect to meet – and it surprises the hell out of you when you do. When I was going away to college (in Minnesota, and I was coming from Japan), my grandmother off-handedly told me I had a second cousin entering the same college at the same time as me. I thought this was pretty cool, and while I told my new friends about it, I must admit I did very little to try to find her. 2 or 3 days after starting school, I was at a party and my friend introduced me to my cousin. Evidently she had  off-handedly told my friend she had a cousin at that school, and my friend put two and two together. We were instant friends.

But I was completely blown away by the generosity from an unexpected direction the other day – my mother’s first (? Second? Oh Lone Reader – you wanna clarify?) cousin sent me a box of goodies. I have never met her, and my understanding is that she and my mother lost touch (the occasional Christmas card does not count) after their childhood. My mom, her sisters, and that whole round of first cousins had a reconnection recently at a family reunion in California, and they have been in touch since. Ironically she lived in the south bay and I lived just north of San Francisco, but everything for them came together as I was getting ready to leave, so alas we never got together. 

And now that I am on the east coast and she on the west, we have been friends on FB (the evil I love to hate) and she sent me a care package full of kitchen and bath goodies (and deer whistles!) that managed to arrive right when I was having a bit of a down moment. It was so nice and unexpected of her to do – I am still blown away. A beautiful letter was included, and that in of itself would have been more than enough to put a smile on my face. 

Long story short, family is family in whatever way you define it. For me it’s whoever comes into my life and makes me want to put a smile on their face – tenuous blood relation, close relation or no blood shared at all. Family is family and it makes the difficulty of being out here alone and doing this way scary thing by myself less daunting, and more of an adventure.


whatlittlethings said...

This post is so important to me. Family definitely encompasses more than immediate blood relatives and I really appreciate the reminder to be grateful for my "family's" continued, surprising support. Glad you have people out there to support you and move you too. =)

Kerri said...

You are part of my tribe. :)

caitlinvb said...

@Kerri - right back atcha.
@Sam - I'm glad I struck a chord. It's been quite interesting to see who has been so supportive since I came out here - some support has come from unexpected places!!