This I Believe

Allison - Los Angeles, California
Entered on December 21, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: family

I believe in extended family.

I was about to spend Thanksgiving in the little college town where I attend school. But then my aunt emailed me inviting me to go to my dad’s hometown in Washington where her family, another family of cousins, a single aunt, and my grandma live. At first I thought, oh no. I had always preferred not going anywhere because it allowed me to get lots of homework done before the last three weeks of school in December. And then it dawned on me. What’s more important than family? Nothing.

Family relationships give our lives meaning more than anything else in life. Economic, academic professional, success are all valuable experiences, but at the end of the day, if no one is there to share in your joy, what’s it really worth?

I am an only child. When I was little, the other kids envied me. Now people pity me. They often ask, “What’s it like?” I never know how to respond because for me it’s perfectly normal—it’s all I’ve ever known. But as I’ve grown older I’ve come to see how being an only child has molded who I am.

Although only children escape the annoyances of nagging younger siblings or teasing older siblings, they are, well, alone. Only in the past year has this realization hit me. I had always been somewhat alone in my life. I’m shy. I’ve had few close friends. At times it saddens me, but I’ve come to accept and embrace it.

Two years ago I left to live in Europe for a year and a half. I had a goodbye party. I invited maybe sixty people. Ten actually came. Many people that I really expected to come didn’t show. Who came? Besides two close friends, my extended family came. My cousins, who were married students with babies, and who probably had a lot more to do than my single student friends, came. I realized that night that even if I don’t have siblings and sometimes friends, I have extended family. Friends come and go. Family is forever.

A few weeks before my goodbye party, I had the opportunity to go on a cruise with my grandpa. My parents said that I was lucky to have the opportunity to go because who knew how much longer my grandpa would be around. And they were right. I never had another opportunity. While I was in Europe, he passed away.

So as I thought about the chance to go to Washington to spend time with extended family, I couldn’t help but think about my grandmother—how much longer will she be around? I don’t want to miss a single opportunity to spend time with her. So I went. When I arrived in Benton City I was met with warmth and hospitality. As extended family, we played card games, talked, watched movies, and cooked together. I couldn’t have asked for a better Thanksgiving. And even though I didn’t get as much homework done as I would have staying home, time spent with family is infinitely more important than homework.