You may be reading this after an early-morning Black Friday Shopping expedition or you may just be warming up to your day with a cup of coffee and a few Internet reads. I myself am waking up in the house where I grew up, with my own family in tow. My parents' home is full this weekend, with my cousin and her teenage children, my own family of four, my parents and my youngest brother. This weekend we will also spend time with my grandmother, my other brother and his family, and my in-laws.
Extended family is one of the many things I am thankful for this Thanksgiving. From knowing that my children have instant playmates (they have a total of 10 cousins, all under the age of 9) to learning more about my husband through his siblings, extended family has a special place in my heart.
Growing up, I remember summer field trips to museums with my cousins and fall trips to fancy restaurants with my grandparents. Even though we lived twelve hours away (or maybe it was because we were so far away), many of my childhood memories involve my extended family.The triple birthday party we had everything Thanksgiving for my brother and my two cousins, trips to my great-aunt's pool with my grandma and more cousins, spending the night at the convent where my aunt lives (true story) and sharing a beach house on various summer vacations are all significant parts of my childhood memories.
Thankfully, my children are well on their way to making their own set of memories with a loving extended family themselves. Sleepovers at Grandma and Grandpa's house, playing with cousins at every family birthday party, visiting the ocean and their great-aunts, and "being surprised" by the presents Grandpa hides in his jacket every single time he visits are just a few of the traditions they already anticipate.
Technology has made staying in touch easier than ever before, and sharing text messages, email and Facebook with family spans the time between in-person visits. My children love seeing pictures of their cousins, and I imagine it will only be a matter of time before they start texting and instant messaging each other directly. It has made planning for the holidays, from coordinating dates to planning gift exchanges a snap.
We aim to see at least some family members about once a month. While my children play with their cousins, my husband and I get to visit with our parents, siblings, in-laws, and (occasionally) cousins. There is something comforting about being with people who know where you've been and believe in where you are going. That kind of support can only come from those who love you just because you're you, and I can't imagine being thankful for anything more important than that.
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