You can find a full list of my A to Z challenge posts here. :)
I've already blogged about my husband's family, now it's time to blog about mine.
I'm a first born, and a first grandchild (in fact the only grandchild until my brother came along), in a family that counts its members in the low 20's. Sure, if you add in the cousins and such out in Oklahoma and California we might hit forty, but it's still a pretty small family, at least compared to the Joneses.
Most of us lived on the same dead end dirt road, and most of us still do (my sister, a couple of cousins, and I are the only ones who don't). We were rural and poor or close to it, for the most part, and we tend to stay put and avoid risks or upheaval. My aunt and uncle raised their kids and still live in a house they bought from my great-great uncle's family. My uncle and his wife and daughter live up the road (he'd purchased the house from a non-family member in the late '80s). We used to live in my cousin's old house (which had been my great grandparent's old house), and my mother lives in the same place I grew up, but in a new house built by my brother for his family.
When Bill and I lived in the neighborhood, my family owned four houses along a 1/8 mile stretch of dirt road. Seriously. There are good points and bad points for living so close to family. One good thing, holidays. My aunt Deanie used to host Christmas and we'd just walk up (after all, I could see her driveway from my back door). When my uncle Oscar took over hosting, we had to walk a little farther. We had almost endless connected yards. As a kid, I cold walk out of my great grandmother's house, head north, and could cross the yards of four more houses (all on half an acre or more) before hitting a non-family property line. There was a path, from my aunt Charlene at the north end, to my great grandma's back door at the south.
In small families you know everyone. There isn't any 'okay, now whose kid is that again?' like we have in Bill's family. Nope, I can easily identify every single person in my family, well, other than my cousin Tanya's kids who I barely know. She has a Tyler and a Megan, but I'm pretty sure there's a third one. I think.
I know that sounds awful, not knowing if my cousin - who I used to babysit - has a third (or 4th) child, but despite our small size, our family is kind of splintered.
After my great grandmother died, we pretty much stopped having summer cookouts together. Then Thanksgiving faded after my grandmother's death. I tried to resurrect Thanksgiving it after Bill and I married (all 22 of us us at our house), but it never caught on. Before my dad died, Christmas fell away. We all lived there on the same road, within shouting distance if you had decent lungs, and we rarely saw or talked to each other except on holidays, even when I was a kid. Now days, we rarely get together as a group unless there's a wedding or a funeral.
We all love each other, and we're friendly and have a nice time visiting when we do get together, but it's a quiet kind of thing. We're all intensely private, introverted people who are more interested in staying home than going out and partying. We have a definite tendency toward artistic personalities - my family is crammed full of artists, writers, musicians and people active in theater. We tend to have small families, no more than three children, and divorce is uncommon. We used to lean really liberal in politics, but that's changing for some of us to more libertarian views.
There is a lot of substance abuse in my family - I do not drink alcohol, at all, because 1) I really like the taste of whiskey 2) the one time I did get drunk it took me months to get the 'need' taste out of my mouth and 3) alcoholism is a bitch that I've seen it first hand. So no thank you, I'll just have iced tea. Within my family, there's been a good deal of trouble with drugs and almost everyone is (or was) a chain smoker. There's also a lot of depression. Is it the artistic temperaments? Is it our introversions? Is it because we're clannish and suspicious of outsiders - as my aunt has said, you're blood, or you're an in-law (married in and are accepted), or you're an out-law (married in and you are not)? Hell, I've been a blood member of my family for almost 48 years and I often feel like an out-law. Is it because we all lived so close together and have few secrets? Is it something else that keeps splintering us, some underlying current between us? I don't know. I do know that pretty much everyone who gets out of the neighborhood goes far, far away (often out of state) and rarely comes back. That's really sad because we are good people. We're just kinda quiet.