Thanksgiving is nearly here. This is a time of family, football, and food. Of these three family is the most complicated. No holiday brings this home like Thanksgiving. It is the most travelled holiday as families gather to celebrate together. We’re no different here in the Deep South. Family gatherings have already started. The difference is the size of the family because we are all about the large extended family. I grew up breaking bread with aunts, uncles, and cousins. It was not unusual to have 2nd, 3rd and beyond cousins at that feast. Great aunts and uncles visited. My grandparents presided over it all. People came and went, not all day, but all week. Family quarrels and outright feuds surfaced all week long, too.
I knew them all, still do. At gatherings today we expect large amounts of extended family, including the in-laws. The joy is the children. They represent the future. All those other family members have a very definite role to play in their lives. It really does take a village to raise a child, and those extended family members represent that village. During this time of gathering multitudes of cousins play together. The generation of parents keeps order and discipline, and often does most of the work. And the older generation passes on the memories, and wisdom, of the clan. Those stories passed to the younger ones keep the family history alive. Many of the young ones leave these celebrations with a stronger sense of family and of their family heritage.
So, when the feuds and fights resurface I remind myself that family is complicated. I let love of my Southern heritage lead the way. All those kin bring a piece of that heritage to the table, even if I don’t agree with them or they with me. All those disagreements are done with a Southern accent. So are the hugs.
Blessed Thanksgiving to all of you!