I’ve been doing a little reminiscing lately.  The middle of January always has that effect on me. I reminisce about previous wedding anniversaries and birthdays, and I take stock of my life and make goals for the year. It all happens in January and I think it’s a good thing.

DH and I were still teenagers when we got married. If we were the type to just move in together, I guess that’s what we would have done, but because living together for us required marriage, and because we were ready to make that commitment, we made it! I’m still not sure how my parents were able to cope with that, especially seeing as DD is now older than I was when we got married. But for us, it was the right thing to do. It hasn’t meant that life has been easy or that we haven’t had our ups and downs. I guess the challenges that come with a young marriage are slightly different to those that come when you marry a little older, but every marriage comes with challenges, as does every commitment. We’re very grateful to have come this far, to have made it over some significant hurdles, and to still be in love and committed to each other.

When we got married, we wanted our reception to be a party that reflected us, who we were and how we felt. And, maybe because we were so very young, we didn’t really see why we needed to invite all the aunts and uncles to celebrate with us. My mother is one of six children and my father is one of five and each of those had married and had children. At the time of our marriage DH had five living grandparents, let alone aunts, uncles and cousins. So, yes, a lot of family to invite and we couldn’t really see the point – we didn’t see these people very much in our daily lives, we just happened to be related to them. (Stay tuned wider family, the story gets better, don’t get upset yet!) We just wanted our wedding reception to be a party, and we could have that easily with the friends we had gone to school with, the friends we saw every week or every day.

But there was a problem. DH’s best friend happened to be my cousin. Obviously you can’t invite one cousin without inviting them all. It just wouldn’t be right. So we bit the bullet and invited everyone.

I still remember one night when we were working on the invitations and the cry went up (possibly from Mum) ‘Oh no! We haven’t invited Great Uncle Tom!’ Dad raced upstairs to print out another invitation while DH stood in the middle of the room, a look of confusion on his face, and asked, ‘Who is Great Uncle Tom?!’ he had never met my great uncle, and could not for the life of him understand why we should invite this person. The rest of us knew that he had to be there. He said grace for us at the reception – he’s a pretty big man in our family, very important, just doesn’t live nearby and we don’t see him very often. (Less now that he’s in heaven).

So there you go, all the family was invited, all the family was there. And you know something? I am so grateful now that that was the case! I have thought about it often. The relationships I have with my aunts and uncles and cousins are so special to me, so important. I am so glad that I didn’t unthinkingly leave them out of such an important occasion in my life. I am so glad I listened to my parents and invited everyone. How awful if we had missed that opportunity!

I wonder if the understanding of the importance of family grows with everyone as they get older? Is this the reason that retirees research their family tree? The reason that adopted children go to such trouble to find out who their birth parents are? I can tell you, I am not getting to know my wider family just so as I can tell some surgeon sometime that this illness I have is because so-and-so had cardiac problems, or tuberculosis, or mental health issues. There is no real logic to it, it’s just a desire, a necessity. It’s a bit like having children – there’s no logic there either, but it’s something that many of us just feel we have to do! You could blame it on genetics, or my personality type or an evolutionary necessity. I just know that this connectedness is important to me, these people are super special and I’m grateful to be part of a large loving family.

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