I come from a big family and growing up we were together all of the time. Our gatherings were mostly, if not all, family. I didn’t notice that because there were so darn many of us. I don’t remember a birthday party with my friends although I used to go to their parties and think it amazing their cousins weren’t there.
When I met my husband one of the first things we realized is how similar our families were including both having an Uncle Angelo. He has similar memories of growing up with his cousins but there was one thing exclusive to his family. You did not have to be actually related to be given the honor of being called uncle, aunt or cousin.
Simply being an old family friend usually gave you that distinction. My mother-in-law’s neighbor growing up is Aunt Betty. They grew up together and have stayed close to this day. Mom still drives Aunt Betty to the grocery store and for hair appointments. This relationship has thrived for nearly 80 years. It is no wonder that she is an “aunt” and her children are “cousins.”
When I first met them it took some getting used to…how are you related to Aunt Dot? She lives upstairs? So how is she your aunt? Is Addison your uncle because his cousin lives upstairs? It made no sense to me. My husband’s family is not only a melting pot of relatives but of family friends.
We have “adopted” this way of life and our son’s family is huge! Our college friends are “aunts” and “uncles” and their children are Anthony’s “cousins.” Our neighbor’s grandchildren call us aunt and uncle and my husband is a Godfather to the eldest. We have many Godchildren who call us aunt and uncle.
Uncle Charlie is one of my husband’s best friends from high school. He is a dentist and did our son’s braces. One day when he was 7 or 8 he was talking to his best buddy in the neighborhood telling him he had to go to Uncle Charlie’s to have his braces adjusted. When he asked how we were related, Anthony said that he was his father’s friend. His pal did not believe that was a relationship but Anthony patiently explained that some people you are related to by blood and some people you are related to by love.
My friend Denise, a college hall mate, and her husband Gerry are hosting our family for Thanksgiving today. Anthony loves Aunt Denise and her youngest son is our Godchild. Their family table becomes our family table because we are related by love.
Life is good!