A year ago, when my daughter started a new job, she was being introduced to a co-worker for the first time. When that co-worker heard her last name, she asked my daughter, “Are you related to Robin?” My daughter shrugged in immediate defeat. How could she possibly know if she’s related to a Robin? She comes from one of the most prolific families on the face of the earth. Later, when she asked me, I told her that yes, Robin is the wife her first cousin David.
For the last couple of days, I’ve been working on updating my husband’s family tree. His family had a reunion back in 1988 (just Tom’s brothers and sisters and their families) and a family tree was printed up at that time. Are you ready for this? In those 21 years, from 1988 to 2009, Tom’s immediate family has grown from 89 living family members to an astounding 203. That includes the children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren of Tom’s parents, Tillie and Leone.
In 1988, it took 4 pages to document his family. In 2009, it takes 3 times as many pages to chart this whole family into a tree—one honkin’ huge giant redwood tree.
Last summer, we had a reunion of my side of the family—my parents and their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. We marveled at our size—60 family members at that time (not to mention the “buns in the oven”).
Ha! Compared to Tom’s side of the family, my own family members are procreation amateurs—a skinny little oak next to their giant redwood.
So my poor children have around 250 immediate family members, not going beyond first cousins. Two years ago, when my daughter got married, we agonized over the guest list. We considered not allowing the groom to invite anybody, but that didn’t seem to be a fair way to start a marriage. So to accommodate the groom’s side of the family plus everyone’s friends, the relative list was pared down and pared down until we knew were offending somebody. But unless we were prepared to buy a chicken dinner for 500 people, we just had to stop somewhere.
Having a large family is a blessing, but it’s also overwhelming. It’s nearly impossible to keep track of everyone. There’s always a wedding or a funeral or a birth or an anniversary or a high school graduation or a college graduation or an illness or a new job or a layoff or a military deployment or . . .
With the lives of over 250 family tree branches and twigs--and yes, a few nuts-- to think about, life’s celebrations and sufferings are always with us.