My baby cousin is getting married this coming Saturday. J is nine years and eleven months younger than I, and the nearest thing I have to a brother. He is not my only cousin, but he is the one I have the closest ties with. Although my extended family is large, I grew up with only two aunts nearby, and only one had a child. He and my younger sister were especially close as kids, being less than two years apart.
A lot of family are gathering this coming weekend for the wedding. Some of them have never ventured more than 50-100 miles from home, so that tells you that this is a big deal. Partly it's because J is an only child. Most of the rest of them come from families of 5 or 6 kids, and I often think that the younger ones get the short end of the stick because by the time their big moment - be it wedding, graduation, or new babies - comes along their older siblings have already been there and done that and I think the extended family doesn't always make as big a deal out of it.
Probably I should explain what is meant by "extended family." Here's the deal: my mother comes from a family of 8 kids. Her oldest sister had 5 kids; the next oldest sister had 5 kids; the oldest brother had 5 kids; my mom, only two; the four younger siblings are 0, 3, 1, and 0. So that's 19 cousins just on my mom's side.
My dad was the baby of 4, but his sibs did their part to populate the world. His oldest sister had 4, his older brother 4, and his next older sister had 6 kids. That makes 14 cousins on my dad's side, or a whopping total of 33 in my generation alone. And I'm not even going to get into their kids and their kids' kids.
J appears to be the last of my generation to be getting married. Okay, there's me, and one or two other cousins about my age who are holding out; but we're a bit set in our ways at this point and nobody seems to be expecting announcements from us. J is also well liked in the family, and his wedding may be the last really good excuse for a clan gathering on my mom's side; so I think more people than usual are making the effort, even though it means going out into the big, bad suburbs.
I'm anticipating some family stories, and I'm also thinking that this might be a good time to get some of them written down. We'll see. Stay tuned.