There’s no family in this world that’s absolutely perfect, and even if there was wouldn’t they be devastatingly boring? My dad grew up in a family with 11 brothers and sisters and my mom grew up with 6. This leaves me with more cousins than I know what to do with. Most must see these numbers as pure chaos, but I’ve grown to learn this just makes things more interesting.
I could go on forever naming the things that irritate me about my extended family like the way every activity turns into a competition, how I have to look after my little cousins, how cramped the kitchen becomes at family gatherings, or how much I hate the potatoes my aunt makes, but what would take even longer is how many aspects of a big family I cherish. There isn’t anything I would trade for stories my uncle tells us, the hours of ping-pong and charades we’ve played, or the hugs my grandpa gives, or the outrageous stories I’ve heard after my aunts have had a few drinks.
I’ve never known anything but a huge family and once I hit middle school and saw how my friend’s family’s worked I questioned my own. I was invited to my friend’s family Christmas dinner. I was beyond excited to go and eat dinner with a new family to share stories and laugh for hours around the table. When I arrived, I naively expected to open the door and sneak through the crowds of people to find my friend, but to my suprise as the door opened there wasn’t anyone. I walked down the hallway to the kitchen, and found two family’s sitting there. I went over to my friend, leaned over to her hear and whispered, “Where is everyone?”
“This is it” she replied. That’s when I first realized my family was far from normal.
It wasn’t until about a year ago, on our family trip to Lake Powell that I discovered that through the individual quirks my family has, we are great as a whole. For an entire week, fifteen of us Dunns shared one boat where we slept, ate, and spent the whole day together. It was night time and the entire sky was lit up but the thousands of stars that hovering above us. A lantern sat in the center of the table where mosquitoes swarmed to fatefully get a glimpse of the light. My Dad and my brother were disputing some intellectual topic, while my mom and my aunts were laughing so loud no other conversations were audible. My cousin played the guitar while my uncle was destroying my cousin in thumb-war contest. And as I sat back and watched, it was in that moment I came to the realization that the perfect family isn’t actually perfect. In fact, they could be nowhere near perfect, but in their own strange way they come together and make it work. I believe through a family’s imperfection, they become more perfect.
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