I have a niece that is excellent at sending out cards for every holiday. She includes pictures of her family at Easter, Halloween, Christmas – doesn’t seem to matter what the reason is. I very much enjoy receiving them, though I must admit that I am always puzzled by whose genes encourage her to be so diligent. I don’t think they came from my brother, as I never knew him to be super family-oriented, but maybe they came from her grandmother, my mom. Family was paramount with her, and we always knew at least the outlines of the family tree, meeting relatives from just about every branch. We had big family reunions many summers throughout my growing up, with people bringing their whole families from all over the midwest to attend. It was the expected thing to do, and everyone planned their vacations accordingly. We knew our numerous cousins in Belding, Illinois was rife with Nirider relatives, and Wisconsin was a regular destination. My father’s family was large with six siblings, and my mother’s family had a huge upper tier – her aunts and uncles numbered seven or eight, with some even being younger than she was. Any way you look at it, that adds up to a lot of cousins.
When we traveled it was to family, not to destinations. Perhaps that was partially because my parents were frugal and we could stay with relations instead of hotels, but I think it was mostly because that’s just what we did.
In this digital age, when it is so easy to stay connected via internet or phone or other technology, I find I am less connected with my family than I ever was before. We live further away from each other, and the branches of cousins have further diluted and separated. I don’t even see my immediate family and their kids anymore. The only one I hear from is my niece, and that is just through her amazing sense of connection.
I can’t help thinking my parents would be disappointed.