The past 15 years or so, I have felt like our family was super duper tiny. It sort of grew, then it has shrunk again.
My parents live in Georgia and my mother (Beulah Mae Williams Thurston) is originally from Georgia - Macon, to be exact. She never left her hometown. My mom was an only child, sooo.. there are no immediate cousins or aunts and uncles for us. I only have one sister. My dad is from Indiana - you get the picture?
My mother grew up in one of those old southern families where everyone lived together. She lived with her grandparents and parents. I was fortunate enough to know both of my great-grandmothers (on her side) and my grandparents. We used to spend every Sunday (and many Saturdays) at their home. Really good memories. I feel so blessed to have that experience. My Great Grandmother (Beulah Mae Knowles Williams) gave birth to 12 children, 6 of which died. However, her kids (my great aunts and uncles) were: Pauline, Herbert, Sara, Junior, Willie Mae (Bill) and my grandfather Henry Melvin Williams. Each of these people had children. These children are my second cousins and as close to "family" as we get in Georgia.
My dad is from Monroe City, Indiana. That is near Vincennes or Evansville. Cornfield city. His mother (Hazel Marie Small) and father (Emerson Waldo Thurston) had five children: Joyce, June, Johnny & Jimmie (twins) and Jackie Emerson Thurston (my dad.) Each family member (my actual uncles and aunts) had about 2 kids per - so YES- I do have 1st cousins.
So what happened? To start with, we only visited Indiana and the family about once a year (summer family reunions.) My Grandma Thurston died when I was 15. (My grandfather died when I was 4.) When she died, the family sort of quit getting together. It was waaay more sporadic. My uncle Johnnie and his wife Jewel (with their kids, Bryan and Teresa) lived in Beaver Creek, Ohio. My Uncle Jimmie lived with his family in Missouri, and my Aunt June lived in Illinois with her family. Joyce remained in Indiana (but has since passed, as well as uncle Jimmie and Aunt Jewell.)
As for my Georgia family - which had cousins I would "play with" at Granny's house (the matriarch) - My Great Grandmother died when I was a junior in high school. That completely stopped the family visits. That one tie that bonded us all together was gone. My Grandma Betty Jo Terry Williams died when I was in college (20.) And just three years later, my Papa (her husband) died 2 weeks before I graduated from college. Zap. No more immediate family.
Then I get married to a man that had a BIG family and all of his relatives lived near him. Then my sister gets married to a man with two children (that he had custody of) and then had my niece Autumn. I began hosting exchange students. We recreated the family.
Then I divorced my husband, as well as my sis divorces hers. No more exchange students - no more step-nieces. I later married a man with a HUGE family (but they live in Egypt.)
So you see - holidays are quiet now.
BUT.. here's the point I am getting at - while giving you my entire family history - Social Media has brought some of the "cousins" back together. Very cool indeed.
It started with a small search on my part. My Aunt Jewell died (in Ohio) and I wanted to find my cousins Brian and Teresa. I found Aunt Jewell's obit online and discovered my cousin's married last name - and boom - there she was on Facebook the whole time. (Brian is not.) Then, as I was doing another search - my cousin Tom popped up on Linked In (Joyce's son) - he apparently lives in Cedar Rapids and is working as an aeronautical engineer for NASA. So we connected! But that's it. But it's a start with my Midwestern roots.
Then last night, out of nowhere, my cousins Amy (Junior's grand daughter) and Cathy (Willie Mae's daughter) found me on Facebook. I used to "play" with them every time I visited my grandparents. They lived in the neighborhood. Then as we all became teens - they sort of disappeared into a different world. I lost track of them after Granny died. We chatted it up last night and all agreed that we have to reconnect when I come home. Cathy was thrilled to see all of my pics, and was telling her son about his family he did not know about. Sad, isn't it?
As I was chatting I discovered another cousin on FB - the daughter of my cousin Julie that died of cancer this past year. And I hope, with all of my heart - I can find everyone else.
I miss holidays with family. I miss reunions. I like that type of stuff. Social Media is AMAZING. God only knows what the future has in store!