I didn't grow up with a large family, and to be perfectly frank, that was absolutely fine by me. As an only child of parents who didn't see their siblings very often, weekends were quiet and holidays even more so.
Thankfully, my parents and I got along and I enjoyed playing by myself or with my friends, and always found a way to occupy my time. However, for as much as I loved the quietness of my small family, I'm forever grateful that I married quite the opposite.
While I have fewer than 15 relatives, many of whom I'm not fortunate enough to visit because they're scattered across the world, my husband's family has at least tripled, if not quadrupled that number.
To be honest, it's hard to keep track because at every family gathering, despite having been together for 11 years now, I'm still meeting new relatives.
The quiet Christmases of my childhood have been replaced with with rooms filled with chattering cousins and loud uncles debating politics and sports. It seems like there's a family gathering almost every weekend, between birthday parties, celebrations, and performances.
When my son has a birthday party, instead of it being a quiet and intimate affair, he's surrounded by cousins and aunts and uncles that love him. It's loud and boisterous, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
When I married my husband, I knew I was also hitching my ride with his big family. While there were moments in the beginning that were a little overwhelming, over time I shed some of my desire to be alone and learned to embrace the crazy family life that came with my husband — and I'm so glad I did.
Besides the fact that I get a huge group of people to love and talk to, my son gets the best of both worlds.
He's an only child, just like I was. At home, it's just our tripod - our little family of three, and I love it that way. It works for us.
But on holidays and family gatherings, he gets to play with a whole brood of cousins and gets to experience that joy of living amongst a huge group of people who would do anything for him.
The way I was raised wasn't wrong - it was wonderful - but I'm so grateful to have found a family that has taken me in to experience all of the wild eccentricities, inside jokes, and love that I otherwise wouldn't have experienced.
The fact that my son gets to grow up with them makes it even better.