Tonight, I watched my younger brother's two children. This is the second time in about a month that we've been able to do that. Life being what it is, we don't get to see too much of them, though they live only 10 minutes away. But, our kids and their's have such a great time when they're together. The same goes for my older brother's children. Their are 13 cousins in all and they all get along great and enjoy being together.
I missed that while I was growing up. My dad's family lived out of state and my mom's sister has 2 children quite a bit older than we were. So, there were no close cousin relationships. One set of grandparents lived out of state and my one surviving grandfather who lived nearby was not too sociable. I always felt a bit sad about the lack of extended family. Thanksgiving and Christmas, when many of my friends had large family gatherings, were very small and quiet in our home - just my parents and us kids. Don't get me wrong, we have some good memories, but I always felt something was missing.
Eric grew up with his grandparents living next door. His family gets together regularly - always have. He knows the relationships that I never knew.
When we found out we were expecting Michael, we lived in Maine. Eric worked for a construction company. This company seemed bent on breaking up families. One by one, the marriages of the employees were falling apart. We realized this was no place for us to be. We also wanted our children to know their grandparents, their aunts and uncles, as well as any cousins that might come along.
It's a long story of how we got home, but here we are. It was a good move, one I'm glad we made.
Our children are very close to both sets of grandparents. Even my dad, who lived in the South before he passed away, would make frequent trips up to see the children and they looked forward to those times. Their cousins are like siblings to them (like they need any more of those!). When I begin to feel weary of some of the large get-togethers, I remember what it was like not having that and rejoice that God has blessed my children in such a way.
I must note that I have recently gotten back in touch with a couple of my aunts and cousins and feel extremely blessed to live in an age where it is so much easier to stay connected! The Lord is good to bless us in His time!
So, the cousins were over today. We're getting together for dinner next Friday. We're making memories and the kids are nurturing relationships that will last, I hope, a lifetime!
Cherish the times spent with your extended family and make those times frequent. There are times when you cannot be together - take advantage of the technologies that we have today to keep in close contact. Family is so very important and wonderful!
Blessings upon you all and your precious families!