It can be rough hanging out with family. I get excited and nervous. I look forward to it and dread it at the same time. I’m sure I’m not alone in having mixed feelings. Everyone’s childhood was a mixed bag and along with the happy memories, there are usually things you’d just as soon forget entirely.

While I anticipate getting to reconnect with my siblings, the mere fact that there are 7 of them makes it hard to fit it all in. And you sometimes end up with these little rushed Howareyous, I’mdoingfinethanks and Whatareyoudoingnow-s that can start to feel a little less than genuine by the 4th or 5th time. Add to that the fact that not many of them understand the whole internet-blogging-writing thing and it strains the conversation a bit. Or brings it to a startling halt. Whichever.

The 10 Of Us

I love them all to pieces but I find that I don’t have a lot in common with many of them. We can talk about parenting to a certain point but then it starts to break apart since I’m part of a divorced/remarried couple and the only one of my kind among My People. I don’t have the luxury of feeling free enough to complain about the strains of parenthood since part of me feels like if I dare to utter anything along those lines, I’ll jinx the time I get to spend with my kids. Like, I should be so grateful that I have them as much as I do, complaining about anything would show a distinct lack of gratitude. So when another parent starts to roll their eyes a bit and vent about so-and-so at a certain age, I try to identify with it but really, in my head I’m thinking about how lucky I am if I get to see that particular personality trait at that certain age or I’m thinking about how sad I am that I missed that when it was happening with my child.

And of course, religion. Some of my family feels like I must still be mentally ill because if I was really well, I’d have rejoined the Mormon church. They can’t fathom not wanting to be Mormon. This subject goes so deep that it’s sometimes hard to figure out where the emotional part ends and the factual part starts. I don’t believe I’ll ever join any organized religion, least of all the Mormon church, but that doesn’t mean I can’t understand why they want to belong to it.

Politics are most definitely out.

Which really leaves nutrition and diet. You might say my family has a slight obsession with talking about those subjects. Fiber, sleeping habits, blood results and breakfast. Oh yes, we know how to have a good time. At some point, one of us should write it all down and sell the book.

There is one part of every family get together that I truly do look forward to and that is the singing get-together. We have a folder thick with old sheet music and almost everyone knows the words or at least the tune and can hum along. They are the songs we sang on long car rides from our home to my grandparent’s home every summer. I have the best memories of my father’s voice singing tenor and my older brother singing bass, my mom and sisters singing soprano and alto and me trying to figure out where my voice fit. The Green Eyed Dragon is one of my favorites as is I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and its counter harmony It’s A Sin To Tell A Lie. Singing with my family always makes me teary and emotional. Sometimes I’ll just have tears streaming down my face and no way to control it. I’m not sad, exactly, but nostalgic, maybe, for what I wish my childhood could have been like and thankful for this small way to connect with all of them. It’s hard to always feel slightly on the outside.

This year for the family talent show, Alex sang Fever and the boys and I sang backup. We had a good time and no one in my family had a heart attack from the explicit meaning of the song. Here we are in all our glory:


We ended the evening with a dance. We try a dance every few years and my boys never fail to suddenly disappear. This year, my mom was the MC and she did a great job switching things up. We did the Broom Dance, a Two-Step Cakewalk and the Virginia Reel with her calling out the steps.

Virginia Reel 1

Even with all our issues, I wouldn’t trade my family for any other. Especially now since they said we’ll never go camping again. I’m voting 5 star hotel with masseuse and basement arcade complete with soundproof walls.

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  1. Since about 1961, my grandmother and her seven siblings have been getting together regularly (at one point, every 4 years, now every 2) at a church camp in Southern Idaho, where they all grew up. The family has grown to include more than 100 of us, although only about 60-80 ever show up, often including friends of various people who aren’t actually family members.
    Even though we don’t all get along, and we intentionally avoid conversation topics like religion and politics (and, until I brought my flexitarian self and strict vegetarian boyfriend this year, food), we have such a good time. As a member of the fourth generation (my great-grandparents had the “original eight” — I’m the equivalent of your kids’ kids), I am so grateful that I grew up with this network of people. I know that they will always be there if I need someone. When I moved from Texas to Oregon, I was put in touch with a great-aunt, who regularly checks in on me and fed me a lot through college.
    Regardless of the difficulties you have with your family, continuing to get together with them will likely prove invaluable.

    I’m glad you love them despite complications.

  2. It’s weird how different we can all be (given that I come from Northern Ireland and have no real knowledge of growing up in an american morman family) but have similar family issues. Or at least just have issues in general. I have yet to come across anyone who has a simple family life. But like you say… who would swap them… our families are lovely… no matter how infuriating sometimes!

    Great photos.

    (shame about the spammer)

  3. Your family totally, I mean TOTALLY, reminds me of my own. It’s uncanny.

    What are you eating for breakfast these days?

  4. Boy, it sounds like you have a really strange family. Sorry about that. Me too.

    I’m just sorry I didn’t have a chance to have a few more little rushed howareyous, I’mdoingfinethanks and whatareyoudoingnows with you. Because I DO understand the whole online blog thing. Sorry I missed that chance. So that’s what you do?

    Although forced, stressful, and uncomfortable, I’m grateful for the intermittent opportunities to strengthen our familial relationships a little . . . so that they will be slightly less forced, stressful and uncomfortable the next time we need to support each other and some semblance of a relationship would come in handy.

    I do regret that you feel estranged, but I understand it. You are very different in many ways, and you have also chosen to be different in many ways, but I love you like the dickens! And I think you know that we all do. Every single one of us. So there. Neener.

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