During the month of December I have a relative who will have a birthday . Nothing strange in that occurrence you’re thinking. Although it has made me think about how a family can become divided due to a family ……we’ll call it a ‘feud’ until I can think of a more appropriate term. A decade and a half plus three years ago this problem happened, a life time for some of our younger family members. I’m not going into the reasons, to be honest I only know the bare bones, the Chinese Whispers that pass around families. My thoughts are, I wasn’t involved in this feud and somehow it has had an impact on the life of my family. 2017 will be a big celebratory year for the family and there are going to be a few zero birthdays happening. Big birthdays are always a good reason for family to gather. Lots of planning goes into making a special occasion that everyone will remember and talk about in later years. Now back to my ‘estranged’ relative, in retrospect I have never celebrated any special occasions in their life – other than a wedding almost thirty years ago – that unfortunately didn’t last. I nor my siblings have been invited to any special birthdays throughout the years or looked forward with anticipation and excitement to the birth of a child, as I have done with other family and close friends. My children haven’t cousins of their own age due to my own siblings being much younger than me, which meant their children are still quite young. My cousins children are of similar ages and they simply became ‘cousins’. We had the usual birthday parties at the noisy play barns and summer play dates. We celebrated end of A level results and the moving onto University stages. We also endured each others sad times when losing loved ones.
My feelings are that this relative has missed out on such a lot of happiness over the years and the child that eventually blessed a new partnership does not really know any of their extended family. Maybe I am making assumptions here, perhaps her life is full and she is content? I can count on one hand (minus a thumb) the amount of times I have had contact with this child or the parents over the years. The child has never had the advantage of spending time with the other young people in the family, there are six of them . Not spent time at the park, eating ice cream or visiting and playing with each others new toys. There are not any photos in my faded albums of these people. Nothing to remember them by, no history to recount, no memories to conjure up when clearing out the cupboards and the old photos fall out. Just distant thoughts and a ‘I wonder what happened to them?’
For sixteen years I sent a birthday card, however I am positive by the time the child could read, the question would be asked ‘Mum, who are these people?’ This year I didn’t send a card….
On the other side, they have not experienced my sons grow from gangly, spotty teenagers into fantastic young men. My siblings become parents to gorgeous children and now looking forward to becoming a grandparent and myself…a great aunt!!
So, am I the enemy by default because I didn’t get involved and didn’t take a side? More possibly I am an innocent bystander that got caught in the cross fire. Do we really need extended family? Are we happier in our own bubble of life? Will the child look back on life in years to come and wish they had known some of those distant relatives? Who knows the answer.
My children look back on their childhood with a smile and recount many happy moments with their family, both extended and just boring old mum and dad! That makes me extremely happy 🙂