These last few weeks have been a flurry of friends, family, Christmas parties, cookie exchanges, dinners and many other fun celebrations of the holiday season. I am off for the next two weeks and am looking forward to some relaxation and time with my immediate family (my mom, sister and brother-in-law) on Christmas.
We have decided this year that we aren't doing presents but instead are going to each buy $20-30 in scratch off lottery tickets and play however many rounds of Uno it takes to get rid of them (each hand you win, you get to pick one you want). I also got a TON of Starbucks gift cards from students this year and since I don't really drink coffee and still have $150 from previous years I am throwing about $60 into the Christmas pot with the lotto tickets too. Should be a ton of fun!
Tonight was our family Christmas dinner. When my grandparents were still alive, we had over 30 people at these dinners. We were a blended family; my grandparents married each other at age 50, well before I was born and each had 4 kids coming in. So when 8 kids all started having kids at the same time our holidays became very large, very quick! But both my grandparents are gone now and with all of us grandkids being older (only one out of fifteen is still in college), most are married and have started their own families, we have broken off and it's down to just 10-12 of us each year. In our particular branch, only my sister and one older cousin is married. He has kids but they are teenagers so essentially the rest of us are just in this strange transition phase. Mostly mid-20's, just settling into careers and relationships but haven't started families yet.
It just got me thinking about the waves families go through and how my time is coming up to keep my mom's side of the family going. My sister likely won't have kids, which basically leaves one younger cousin (he's the one still in college) and the older one who basically has already raised his. My youngest cousin died a few years ago from leukemia and I have a couple other cousins but due to a LOT of family drama, they don't come by anymore so it's pretty much down to just the three of us on this side.The rest of the 15 grandkids are on the "step" side and they have all had at least 2 kids each, except for the youngest twins who are just newly out of college. Their side is flourishing and it makes me a bit sad when I think of my dwindling family here.
I grew up with a huge family on both my mom and dad's sides and it is a source of some amazing childhood memories. Every holiday was a huge deal with tons of family, kids to play with, people you knew you were related to but not really sure how, etc. And when I decide it's time to pursue getting pregnant and hopefully am lucky enough to have a child, it's unlikely my child will have any cousins to grow up with (at least ones close that they'll see with any frequency). It makes me sad to think that in addition to so many things my child will already not have any choice in the matter with in regards to their father, but that I am bringing them into a world that won't have a ton of family either.
It stings my heart because I want to give my child the experiences I had and I know I won't be able to do that. I can't create family from thin air.
But what I have learned over the past few years when I was struggling with forgiving my family for some past events, is that family is whoever you want it to be. I have two amazing sets of friends (married couples) that have basically adopted me into their families and I spend the same if not more time with them than I do sometimes with my blood family. I have watched their children be born and grow into some amazing kids and teenagers. I have my friends at work that are all now starting to begin their families (two have kids under 18 months, two are currently pregnant, two have been married a few years and it wouldn't surprise me if they start families soon and one just got married not too long ago) and I know these ladies will be a huge source of family for me when the time comes.
But I couldn't help but smirk a little when I left my aunt's house tonight thinking that if I stick to the original plan, that next year could be the last time I am there as just me...
Pretty amazing glimpse into the future.