#BehindtheBlogger: When you Marry into a Big Family

I recently saw a Facebook post lamenting on how, while holidays can be lovely, it’s not always the most wonderful time. For those with painful memories, or few to celebrate with holiday time can be lonely, and difficult to get through. Holidays for me now, are a completely different entity. A time for decorating trees, huge, festive celebrations, egg hunting, food buffets, and a Christmas Eve filled with family. But while it is my family, it’s not the one that was given to me at birth. I don’t always take on personal topics, but this week as part of #behindtheblogger I’m delving into all the feelings that occur when you go from lone wolf to marry into a big family.

Growing up the daughter of a single mom in New York City, those kind of holidays were foreign to me. A normal Christmas Eve was spent eating Chinese food, followed by Christmas day at the movie theater. A tradition widely known to Jewish NYC families. Those quiet, fun holidays were all I knew growing up. Mom would light the menorah, we’d fumble over prayers, and I’d excitedly open my presents, (which were always amazing). As I got older, though my love for my mother could never wane, I grew tired of quiet holidays. Secretly, I dreamed of a world where we congregated around a fire, being festive and doing whatever families do. It wasn’t that I didn’t love those nights with mom, I did. I just fantasized about being part of something bigger. I had no inkling of how real that fantasy would become.

After college, I’d spend Christmases out of town with close friends and their families. All so I could partake in things that were the COMPLETE opposite of what I knew. Rather than cool, quiet days in the city, mine became filled with family get togethers at the end of neighboring cul-de-sacs. Little did I know, back during those holidays with friends, that one day those festivities would feel small in comparison.

In 2011, a psychic told me that I’d marry a man with a big family. How lovely, I said, but no, my boyfriend has a super small family. He nonchalantly dismissed me and continued with his reading. That moment would change my life in more ways than one. Shortly after that, a break up and a sudden, drunken, new profile led me down a road I could never have predicted. Even if someone else did.

The man I’d meet would change my life. Not just by marrying me, but simultaneously escorting me into a place I’d never known before; the inside of a giant family. This was a role quite new for me, and a position that would take some adjusting. My mom had a brother who we barely knew, and my father wasn’t on the best of terms with his either. But in this new setting life had given me, and now through marriage, I hadn’t just acquired a husband. I’d also gotten a sister, brother, all eleven of his aunts and uncles, not to mention cousins, nephews, and more. At first, I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. “Oh My!” 

Something happens when you grow up in a quiet setting but marry into a big family. I started to realize all those emotions I’d yearned for were now presenting themselves to me, in different, non tangible ways. It wasn’t about being surrounded by a crowded room filled with people and cheese dip come Christmas.

Now, my Holidays resemble a circus. I don’t mean people running around like crazy. I mean quite literally, dozens and dozens of people congregate to eat and party under a giant, white tent. It’s a time when Grandma sits down, not to hand out some trinkets, but to begin her yearly game of Santa passing out presents to each and every child in order of age. It’s a lengthy process where everyone gathers to watch like a tv show, only this one is live. The first show I ever attended, I was bewildered when Grandma called out my name to the massive crowd. ‘Me?!?’, I asked meekly. ‘Yes, you, get up there,’ my one day husband cooed to me, as he gently pushed me towards the center of the room. ‘You’re one of us now, and it’s your turn’, I remember Grandma murmuring to me as she smiled, welcoming me. She was only passing me a little gift, but the sentiment felt much more symbolic, even back then.

When you’re faced with something so foreign or new, especially when it becomes your new normal, transition can be tricky at first. In the beginning, while lovely, it was also scary. I found myself feeling like Woody Allen, wondering, should I really want to belong to a club that would want me as a member?

These are always the types of thoughts we tell ourselves when we’re less than comfortable, or scared of something different. At one time in life when I desperately needed it, I’d yearned for something bigger than myself. I thought I meant it symbolically, but turns out, (and I’m not a religious person at all) something was listening. Perhaps even taking me quite literally. I didn’t know what I was looking for at that time, and once it found me, it was terrifying. I didn’t know how to be a part of this giant, family unit; one that was loving, crazy, and super close. I’d spent thirty years being mostly part of a twosome; two people who above all else had each other. Now, I was part of a new duo. Except this one extended far beyond just the two of us and would come with greater responsibilities. For the longest time I told myself, as wonderful and loving as they are, and though they seem to love me for some reason, they’re not really my family. Now, married and settling into my role as wife, daughter, sister, I realized Grandma was right all those years before. We are family, and I was, in fact, one of them. It was my turn.

 

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Thank you for reading a story from #BehindTheBlogger Hop. Every 2 weeks a group of bloggers is given a writing prompt. These prompts are very open ended, so our bloggers can write about whatever they desire. The main rule is that their blog post directly relates to the topic of that week. The point of this hop is for our readers to get to know us on a personal level.

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