Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Family Ties

Look at a Norman Rockwell picture and you’ll see multigenerational families gathered together enjoying one another’s company, a big family meal to celebrate a birthday or a kid’s birth, or the occasional holiday.

I can remember some similar experiences growing up, spending time with extended family. But because of time and distance, my boys have little or no memory of such multigenerational gatherings and considering their complete lack of living grandparents and great grandparents, a difficult thing to do.

It leaves me wondering if families are even close like Rockwell depicted anymore.

How many families do you know where all the adult kids live within the same city? County? State? How many extended families do you know who gather more often than once a year to celebrate anything or spend time with aunts, uncles and cousins?

My mother’s siblings all live in the same state we all grew up in, but the last two times I know they all gathered in one place were for my mom’s and her mom’s funerals.

My father’s siblings also all live in the same state, and technically their grandfather’s family has a reunion every year in Idaho Falls, though I haven’t heard about for the last few years. And Great-Great Grandpa Westover’s descendants have a reunion every year on the family ranch. Though I’ve heard attendance is falling and I have only been once, when my girls were young, before the boys were born.

I have a general idea where all my aunts and uncles are, but my husband isn’t even sure all of his are alive. We found one within the last ten years, but the others we have no contact with.

I can remember someone taking a five generation picture shortly after my niece was born, with said niece, my sister, my mom, my maternal grandmother and my mom’s maternal grandfather. I’ve never had the opportunity to form such a picture. And considering my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, etc. are all dead, to form one now I’d have to be the great-grandparent in it. So I’ll probably in my 90’s.

My oldest son can’t tell me even how many kids two of my brothers have, let alone genders, or names. He barely knows how many kids my youngest brother has. I’m sure his brother is even more clueless.

I had ties to my grandparents and cousins growing up. I still have contact with some of them. I remember my grandparents. My kids are missing that.

My second oldest is delving into family history with a fervor, finding stories where she can about her ancestors. And maybe that’s why she does it, to feel the bond with her family she doesn’t have here on earth.

But how do I help my kids create those bonds with their cousins?

How do you give your kids close ties to their extended family when they don’t see them, don’t know them, have never met them? How do you give your kids the feeling of loving grandparents when their grandparents are all dead? How do you create bonds with cousins your kids never get to see?

I know I’m failing. I feel bad becauase my kids don’t have that kind of extended family.

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