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Extended Family
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It was off-tune the words were all jumbly, but the event was priceless. All nine grandchildren were sitting on a picnic table singing and keeping time with homemade rhythm instruments, while a grinning grandfather accompanied them on his ukulele. Those were the times I remember as a young mother during family reunions. They became increasingly difficult to organize and soon died out as our children grew and the second generation migrated with their children to various parts of the U.S.

When the term “extended family” was coined, I don’t think the author imagined how “extended” some families would become, not only in distance but in the definition of what comprises a family. In addition to immediate family — mother, father, brothers and sisters — add in aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins. Today’s extended family may include step relatives and half-siblings.

No matter the makeup, stories about family comprise a large part of the Bible. I often imagine the family of Noah as they lived together through the flood or the joy that Abraham experienced when told he was going to have a big family, just like the stars. I’d like to peek in on the reunion that Joseph had with his brothers or the family of Job when they were restored to him.

Bring Them Together

In God’s great wisdom, He gave us families. As a grandmother, my heart is full when my children and grandchildren are together, but that isn’t often. Although my grandchildren’s relationships with aunts and uncles are important, I especially want them to know their cousins. So here’s what I do to “bring them together” when I’m with either set:
  • Share photos: make magnets of their pictures for each family’s refrigerator
  • Skype or Face Time (video conference via phone or computer)
  • Phone chats
  • Share stories about the absent cousins
  • Exchange postcards of their region with my help
  • Plan a visit
Traveling with grandchildren can be expensive and needs to be age appropriate. I found two inexpensive companion airline tickets and my St. Louis grandsons and I are going to meet their cousins in June. Lots of smiles, lots of pictures, lots of fun, lots of memories. Cousins are ready-made friends for life.

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By Dee Litten Reed. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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