My big, BIG, big family

We all know that families come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. My maternal family is gihugantic, comprising five generations, spread across five continents. We are EVERYWHERE, man! I’m really only talking about the direct descendents from my grandparents, when you start getting out to my second and third cousins the numbers are so massive it’s hard to actually comprehend or calculate. I have been crunching some numbers and I think I’ve got a final tally of the clan my grandparents spawned.

High school sweethearts who married in 1943, my grandparents had ten kids and permanently borrowed two more who didn’t have any other family. Those two women are–as far as I know–buried in our family cemetery plot, we “adopted” them as adults which makes it tricky to classify them here, but I always called them Aunt M. and Aunt E., so I’m including them in my numbers. Those ten kids married (one had a husband die and remarried, both those men are counted here) and had 54 children, my generation. About twenty five years ago we–the grandkids–started marrying and having children of our own–the great-grandkids–with 149 of them so far with six more babies on the way (those six comprise the soon-to-be-delivered babies of my first cousins). The oldest of those great-grandkids have already starting popping out babies, there are three great-great-grandkids, which makes some of my cousins grandparents in their own right. Which also means that my grandparents are now great-great-grandparents to three little babies. Is your mind boggled yet? Here, take a look:

Harriet's Family

There’s me, in red. I was born 40 years after my grandparents wed and am nicely placed in the middle-ish-end of my generation, which at the moment includes people from ages 16 to 51. Mind you, with such a wide range my oldest cousins are the same age as as my youngest aunts and uncles and their kids (my second cousins once removed) are older than some of my first cousins. But, that gets into all sorts of convoluted relationships and degrees of separation of generations. I call some of my oldest cousins “Aunt” and “Uncle” and all of the people under age 45ish are simply my “cousin”…including their spouses and kiddos…it just is too confusing otherwise. Back to the numbers: in just 72 years my grandparents went from being newly-weds to having a posterity of 274 people. TWO-HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FOUR! And six more babies on the way.

So, by the end of this year my maternal clan will be TWO-HUNDRED AND EIGHTY PEOPLE!!! And when my first cousins get married that will be even more people. And then there will be more babies and more people and….yowza. It’s a lot of people. For the record, yes, I can absolutely tell you the names of all my cousins and their spouses and the vast majority of their kids.

While I was growing up we spent almost every Sunday night at my grandparents house and some of my favorite childhood memories involve getting into trouble with my cousins. As my Mom’s generation starting to become grandparents and their families continued to grow we stopped having anywhere large enough for everyone to get together. At this point there is usually a large family reunion every few years and a couple of smaller get-together around Christmas or in the summer.

My Dad’s family is considerably smaller, but much more tight-knit. They all live in the same state and due to a manageable number of people (almost 100) it’s still relatively easy to get together a few times a  year. I’ve got big family on both sides so small families are completely fascinating to me!

Do you have a big family? Small family? Do you know all your cousins? How do you stay in touch?

Harriet sig