Family

In my life I have had little exposure or contact with the “extended family”: cousins, uncles, aunts, etc. of my parents. Mother had few of this type thanks to WWII and the division of Germany and I have never visited any of Father’s clan in the south.

In 1979 I met Nancy Lynn Burnham. Nancy is one of four sisters and has four female cousins in the same town. The first time I attended a Burnham clan gathering I thought it was a zoo given the noise and confusion. For many a time I would retreat to a back porch or room or TV or computer – anywhere where ten and more ladies were not. The guys would be watching golf or drinking and I was not a fan of either. I often thought something to be said for being a solidarity taciturn person particularly given the constant correction of my speech by the Speech Therapist in the family.

Earlier this year some of the clan were invited to Nevada to attend the one-year-old birthday party of a grandnephew in September; a blessed event I do acknowledge. Some 40 or so people attended of which about a dozen flew in from out-of-state. The grandnephew had in attendance a great number of his extended family from both of his parents including Nancy and me and her Dad, a great-grandfather.

I thought at first; would it had not been better had those coming from out-of-state just donated the trip expenses to the kid’s college fund? But then weren’t we there to honor his parents and the tradition? And how many of the attendees would live to see him go to college even if that was his choice? Lastly I thought given his parents education he would not lack for financial support and motivation to attend college as they have 4 or 5 degrees between them.

Ultimately I concluded that family is family and too often clan gatherings only occur for events like this, weddings, and funerals. Some traditions should be maintained and some events are happier than others. This was a happy event. I look forward to attending my grandnephew’s wedding.

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