I've been thinking about the nature of family recently.
My mom's family was always close when I was growing up. We saw all the cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents at least once a month. It helped that there were so many of us grandkids with birthdays, but even when we stopped celebrating those, there were holidays and just times to get together at the grandparents' house. We all lived within a short distance of each other, so it was easy.
Chris's family has always been spread out all over the country, often not all on the same continent. Seeing everyone was, and still is, a rare occasion. With plane travel usually required to visit, it took planning, effort, time and money to gather.
What I find interesting is that my family rarely gets together now other than for weddings while Chris's was all for a family reunion, which we had in June. There are a lot of reasons. My grandparents are gone; Chris's are still around to unify the family as a unit. His family is used to being spread out and sees the rare occasion to get as many as possible together as a major event. My family is spread out now, but I think we're not used to having to put so much effort into getting together. Since we spent so much time together, it just doesn't seem as important to gather.
I'm sure there are lots of other reasons, but it's kind of sad to me that we need a big celebration to find the time and money to want to be together. And I know it can be a lot of money for those coming from far away and many of us just don't have a lot of extra. I admit Chris and I don't make as much effort to get up to Chicago to see the relatives there. Chris is actually the one who pushes sometimes when I shrug something off as 'just family' by reminding me (I know! Really, I know!) that family is important and we need to make the effort for family.
We choose our friends, but we don't usually get to choose our relatives. And that's not a bad thing. Having that tie that is so hard to break adds grounding. It adds responsibility but shouldn't be a burden. It means having people in your life that are there, no matter what, and you can't get rid of them easily. Family is part of belonging, even when you don't fit in. We're lucky we have families that are good-natured, caring, easy to get along with, and fun. We are extremely lucky that we like each other's family and that our families get along so well together.
I hope we can keep up the momentum of Downs Family Reunions every 5 years or so. More often would be nice in theory, but I think that might be the limit of practicality. I'd love to start a Caponi Family Reunion every 5 years or so as well. It's been 2 years since the last family wedding, so be prepared, Caponis, for a get together in a few years!
While it's great we keep up via Facebook, we need to see each other from time to time. The newest generation needs to get to know all of us and each other. I want my boys to know their extended family.