We've been very lucky this summer in that we've been able to meet up with family that we've not really been able to spend much time with before. That sounds a bit odd, so let me explain that our immediate family tree is quite small but the branches of the bigger tree are spread very wide. Our summer holiday this year included a visit to Canada specifically to visit relatives that we might otherwise only contact by Christmas card or occasional email – quite a trip but definitely worth the effort.
Now, I know that just because someone is family doesn't mean that you’re going to get on with them, but that’s where we've been really lucky. It occurred to me, whilst standing in my Canadian cousin’s kitchen on our first evening, chatting about everything and nothing as we prepared dinner together, that it was just like meeting up with an old friend – in this case, one that I hadn't seen for more years than I care to remember. Out of the window I could see my husband and big daughter sitting at the garden table, laughing and joking with other members of the family who had made a special effort to come over to meet us for a family party whilst we were visiting. My cousin’s three-year-old twins, who we were warned were terribly shy with newcomers, were both holding tightly to small daughter’s hands as they showed off their garden and were reluctant to let go even when it was time to eat.
Small daughter has always found it easy to make friends. When my husband’s cousins from Wales came to visit last weekend, small daughter and her cousin had disappeared to play even before we had finished our greetings on the driveway. Big daughter now joins in with the adult conversations, absorbing different viewpoints and cultural ideas as she develops her own view of the world. It has been like discovering a whole new set of friends and it’s been lovely to think that these people are part of our family.
The connection makes me think of a spider’s web, stretching out across the globe. Such a tiny thread that holds us all together, but strong enough to withstand the buffeting and turmoils of life. I like it. It reminds me that I’m never alone, that there’s always someone who “belongs” to me somewhere in the world, whether I’m in regular contact with them or not – and, perhaps, always a few extra places to visit on my holidays!
I hope that when the girls are older, they will be able to keep up the contacts for themselves. The web will always grow and change as the family changes, and I like to think that my girls will always know that there is someone in the world who “belongs” to them too. Suddenly, the world is not such a big place.