My big, BIG, big family

We all know that families come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. My maternal family is gihugantic, comprising five generations, spread across five continents. We are EVERYWHERE, man! I’m really only talking about the direct descendents from my grandparents, when you start getting out to my second and third cousins the numbers are so massive it’s hard to actually comprehend or calculate. I have been crunching some numbers and I think I’ve got a final tally of the clan my grandparents spawned.

High school sweethearts who married in 1943, my grandparents had ten kids and permanently borrowed two more who didn’t have any other family. Those two women are–as far as I know–buried in our family cemetery plot, we “adopted” them as adults which makes it tricky to classify them here, but I always called them Aunt M. and Aunt E., so I’m including them in my numbers. Those ten kids married (one had a husband die and remarried, both those men are counted here) and had 54 children, my generation. About twenty five years ago we–the grandkids–started marrying and having children of our own–the great-grandkids–with 149 of them so far with six more babies on the way (those six comprise the soon-to-be-delivered babies of my first cousins). The oldest of those great-grandkids have already starting popping out babies, there are three great-great-grandkids, which makes some of my cousins grandparents in their own right. Which also means that my grandparents are now great-great-grandparents to three little babies. Is your mind boggled yet? Here, take a look:

Harriet's Family

There’s me, in red. I was born 40 years after my grandparents wed and am nicely placed in the middle-ish-end of my generation, which at the moment includes people from ages 16 to 51. Mind you, with such a wide range my oldest cousins are the same age as as my youngest aunts and uncles and their kids (my second cousins once removed) are older than some of my first cousins. But, that gets into all sorts of convoluted relationships and degrees of separation of generations. I call some of my oldest cousins “Aunt” and “Uncle” and all of the people under age 45ish are simply my “cousin”…including their spouses and kiddos…it just is too confusing otherwise. Back to the numbers: in just 72 years my grandparents went from being newly-weds to having a posterity of 274 people. TWO-HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FOUR! And six more babies on the way.

So, by the end of this year my maternal clan will be TWO-HUNDRED AND EIGHTY PEOPLE!!! And when my first cousins get married that will be even more people.Β And then there will be more babies and more people and….yowza. It’s a lot of people. For the record, yes, I can absolutely tell you the names of all my cousins and their spouses and the vast majority of their kids.

While I was growing up we spent almost every Sunday night at my grandparents house and some of my favorite childhood memories involve getting into trouble with my cousins. As my Mom’s generation starting to become grandparents and their families continued to grow we stopped having anywhere large enough for everyone to get together. At this point there is usually a large family reunion every few years and a couple of smaller get-together around Christmas or in the summer.

My Dad’s family is considerably smaller, but much more tight-knit. They all live in the same state and due to a manageable number of people (almost 100) it’s still relatively easy to get together a few times aΒ  year. I’ve got big family on both sides so small families are completely fascinating to me!

Do you have a big family? Small family? Do you know all your cousins? How do you stay in touch?

Harriet sig


10 thoughts on “My big, BIG, big family

  1. Uhm. Just wow. That’s very impressive. How do you keep track? Do you have relationships with all of your cousins?

    My family is significantly smaller and most of my family lives in the same area back in Germany. Some parts of the family are tight-knit, other’s not so much. Families are complicated, man, but I am glad to be close with my immediate family! They’ll come visit in three weeks. Yay! I haven’t seen them in a year, but I talk to my sister and parents at least 3x per week.


    1. I have relationships with most of them, yes, some of the older ones a little less so, but overall I could probably call 90% of them and have a nice little chat on any given day. And I think always have a million cousins and other extended family around, I just grew up keeping them all in my head, it was never something I really had to try hard to do. πŸ™‚



  2. OK, I thought *I* had a large family. You are putting me to shame πŸ™‚

    My mom is one of 7, and the 5 who came before her tended to marry young – sometimes multiple times – and pop out (multiple) kids young as well. So on that side I have (I believe) about 30 first cousins, some of whom are far closer in age to my mom than to me. So similarly to you, several of my first-cousins-once-removed are closer in age to me than my cousins… although UNLIKE you, the family is pretty dysfunctional and no one gets along with everyone else so there are no reunions and I haven’t seen most of my cousins since I was about 10, much less met the newer generations!


  3. Holy that is a ginormous family! I’ve got 6 first cousins. My family has grown considerably due to marriages and divorces and second marriages which has me tacking on all sorts of step family to my family tree. My holidays are considerably more quiet than yours I’d imagine! πŸ™‚


  4. Um, yes…. My family is pretty similar to yours…. You could say identical! πŸ˜‰ Love our family, love my cousins, love you! And yes, I can name them all with spouses and most of their kids too!


    1. I kind of forget I have step-siblings…I think I have…four of them? And some are married? And have kids? None live in my same state and I really don’t interact with them very much….or, uh, at all. Oopsie.



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