I left for several days to take my mother down to the Philly area for a family reunion...
and several people wanted to know what I thought of it.
It's a difficult thing for me to describe.
Yes, they are family.
Yes, I know a few of them.
But by and large... I don't know many.
You see... my sister was over 11yrs older, my brother over 9yrs older.
When they were little, we lived closer to extended family and had many get-togethers.
By the time I came along and was old enough to potentially enjoy these events; we had moved to a different town. My brother and my sister moved out and on with their lives before I was even in 4th grade... so we didn't have the usual bonding that siblings who grew up together have.
I didn't know my mother's parents well; if at all.
Her father died before I was born, her mother when I was 4.
Most all of my mother's siblings are older than her... so hence, most all the extended family was older than me... some significantly older.
I am, therefor, somewhat of an odd in-between child.
In between the age of the cousins... and their children.
Not old enough to have much in common with the cousins, too old for their children.
The same is sort of true for my immediate family, with my siblings being older.
Not much in common with my siblings... too old for their children.
My parents were not the same people they were when my siblings were little.
Economics, health issues... family relations and troubles with my father's family took precedence.
We didn't go on vacations.... or even go out of town... save the once-a-year trip to a neighboring town to get Christmas gifts.
I had a different experience.
I don't totally "get" this joy of reunion... that some of the family members do.
They can reminisce about sledding together... camping together... all those sorts of things that siblings and family that grow up together ... do together... and share in common... and talk about.
My mom loves the show, "The Walton's." It's an iconic reference, and one so many share.
What if.... after all those kids... they had another child 10 years later?
Come reunion time... all of those kids would be swapping stories of when John-boy and Elizabeth went fishing... or Erin and Jason learned to drive... but the last kid... what did they share?
Yes, the same parents. Yes the same relatives. But not the events. Not the commonality.
Not the camaraderie. Not that shared >>wink<< and a nod when stories come round.
It's a feeling of being part of or wanting to be part of .... yet being completely separate.... feeling so much like an outsider.
And it has me thinking a lot about differing views on family.
How for so many people; their life revolves around family and family functions.
Sharing holidays and events.
Even sharing clothing and such.
Sharing the burdens too... caring for loved ones... having mutual parents aging, facing health issues... even passing away.
You have that commonality.
I think in older times... families tended to stay together more... even on a geographical level.
I know of several families where entire generations of siblings/cousins etc grew up together; and so did their children... and their children. Their whole culture and experience was very different.
((So... deep thoughts today on how things effected me;
and how things, in turn, have effected my children... who didn't grow up around any extended family either.))