Sunday, December 5, 2010

When Families Grow

In the distant past times of celebration were a shared occurence--my side of the family and my hubby's side all together in one place. Relatively speaking we were a fairly small group, requiring space for "only" 15-30 people to gather together. This group would include all the siblings, aunts and uncles, and also whichever first cousins were in town (and yes, sometimes a second cousin or two with whom we were very close). Not only did we each get to see our nearest and dearest, but we also got to know the extended family on both sides.

Well, things have changed, and that type of a gathering is just simply not possible any longer, at least not at one time in one person's home. B"H the family has grown even as, sadly, members of my parents' generation are no longer here. And as the family has grown it has also dispersed, some living far from NY. Last night we gathered together "only" 19 people from my side for a Chanukah celebration--and that was short 4 people who were out of town, my brother's family, also out of town, and only included one first cousin and her family. Today is the gathering for my husband's side--"only" 44 people, and no cousins included.

Yes, I enjoy each and every one of the times we get together, while still missing the chance for all the sides to mix together. At other times during the year we make the time to connect to all the cousins, to let our children know the rest of the family. Still, it becomes a question of time and space. And it explains, at least in part, why the invitation lists for "major" simchas, such as brisim and bar mitzvahs and weddings are as long as they are. None of us want to lose that special connection to our family members, want to lose being able to celebrate together, even as practical considerations say it's just not going to happen on a regular basis.

So yes, families growing is something to be joyful about, while still recognizing that as each individual family grows, the ability to gather everyone together at the same time decreases. Whomever you are celebrating Chanukah with this year, I hope that you are making wonderful memories together, memories that form the tapestry that is family life, with all its various threads and colors.


Esty said...

I know what y9ou mean about how family size can make getting together difficult. My husband and I are part of 9 siblings. There are 43 kids among us, 26 married and 44 kids so far. No one has a house that even comes close if we all want to be together at the same time. Last year my parents tried an open house type of party for Sunday on Chanukah with people arriving at different times. Even that way it was super crowded. We have two bar mitzvahs coming up this year and just our side alone could fill a small shul hall.

You really have to work at it if you want family feelings not to get hurt and to keep everyone in touch and seeing each other occasionally.

The Rebbetzin's Husband said...

Another reason for aliyah... If the kids remain in Israel, then there's a limit to their dispersion...

Anonymous said...

Lots of towns have places that you can rent quite inexpensively to hold a larger crowd, places like VFW and BPOE halls, library meeting rooms, etc. You can bring in pre-made latkes, heaters and trays of other food and paper plates, etc.