Why Big Families are the Best

11 Reasons My Big Family Is An Even Bigger Blessing

You call it chaos, we call it family.

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Growing up with a big family has been one of the craziest yet most incredible experiences of my life. My mom has 13 siblings, which has given me a ridiculous number of aunts, uncles, cousins, and second cousins. I have near 40 cousins just on her side, and there are about 70 of us at any given holiday. My family has taught me so much and I still have so much to learn from each and every member. As my family continues to grow, I will be able to make so many new memories in addition to all of the crazy memories I already have. Here are 11 reasons why I love having a big family.

1. There is always something to celebrate

Whether it is a wedding, a birth, a baptism, graduation, or even just a birthday, there is always something to celebrate in the Gieske family. And you bet every single one of us will show up for that celebration.

2. I have automatic best friends

I am lucky enough to have about nine cousins around my age and we have all been so close since day one. We have had countless sleepovers, spent the best days at amusement parks, fought with each other, and been the best friends there ever were. I am so grateful for the best cousins, best friends, and the best future bridesmaids I could ever ask for.

3. Holidays are CRAZY, but awesome

Holidays with my family and any big family are INSANE. The house is always packed with too many people to count and enough food to feed an army. Christmas is so big, my cousins and I have started a gift exchange to ensure we don't completely drain our bank accounts on presents. We have a stocking for every person in the family, and pretty soon we might have to build a longer shelf!

4. So. Many. Babies.

When someone asks how old my youngest cousin is, I don't even know how to answer. There are so many babies in my family and at least one of my aunts or cousins is pregnant. At any holiday, you are guaranteed to be handed a baby at some point. It can get hectic, but I'll always have the babysitting experience that rivals a pro-nanny.

5. Free clothes

Growing up, I had tons of hand-me-downs from my older relatives. I accepted anything from t-shirts from my older male cousins to my aunt's entire college wardrobe from the '90s. As a toddler, most of my clothes were just a little too big (like the pink jacket above). Needless to say, I had some pretty creative outfits.

6. Cousins are like siblings, second cousins are like cousins

Look at this picture. This has my siblings, my cousins, and my second cousins in it. Even I can barely tell who is who anymore. All I know is that we're all related.

7. "Are you related to [insert any possible relative]?"

Yes, yes I am. I have had just about every teacher in my high school, middle school, and both of my elementary schools ask if I was related to countless relatives. I have never met someone with my last name that I was not related to, so I can say yes before the question is even finished.

8. Family vacations are truly an experience

This picture doesn't even do justice to the number of people on our family vacations. Imagine 30 people strolling up to the same mini-golf and go-cart establishment that every good beach has. It is absolute madness - fun madness.

9. Bringing your S.O. home for the holidays is terrifying...for them

There are too many names to memorize, too many babies being put in your arms, and too many uncles trying to intimidate you. My aunt once told us a story of how she wanted to dump her boyfriend but didn't know how so she brought him home and he broke up with her the next day. It can be a scary experience, but if they can handle the Gieske family, they're a keeper.

10.  They made me super competitive

Growing up with tons of cousins and siblings can definitely foster some healthy competition. I remember countless games of capture the flag, kick the can, tag, and every board game you can imagine turning into full-on wars for victory. Even standing on a paddleboard became a game of trying to push each other off. Although we are all overly competitive now, we gained a strong sense of determination and motivation for everything we do.

11.  They are my biggest support system

My family may be overwhelming at times, but I know they will always be there to (literally) pick me up when I'm down, and I wouldn't trade them for the world.

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To The Grandmothers Who Made Us The Women We Are Today

Sincerely, the loving granddaughters.
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The relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter is something so uniquely special and something to be treasured forever.

Your grandma loves you like you are her own daughter and adores you no matter what. She is the first person you run to when you have a problem with your parents and she never fails to grace you with the most comforting advice.

She may be guilty of spoiling you rotten but still makes sure to stress the importance of being thankful and kind.

Your grandma has most likely lived through every obstacle that you are experiencing now as a young adult and always knows just exactly what to say.

She grew up in another generation where things were probably much harder for young women than they are today.

She is a walking example of perseverance, strength, and grace who you aim to be like someday.

Your grandma teaches you the lessons she had to learn the hard way because she does not want you to make the same mistakes she did when she was growing up.

Her hugs never fail to warm your heart, her smile never fails to make you smile, and her laugh never fails to brighten your day.

She inspires you to be the best version of yourself that you can be.

You only hope that one day you can be the mother and grandmother she was to you.

A piece of girl’s heart will forever belong to her grandma that no one could ever replace.

She is the matriarch of your family and is the glue that holds you all together.

Grandmothers play such an important role in helping their granddaughters to grow into strong, intelligent, kind women.

She teaches you how to love and how to forgive.

Without the unconditional love of your grandma, you would not be the woman you are today.

To all of the grandmothers out there, thank you for being you.

Sincerely,

the loving granddaughters

Cover Image Credit: Carlie Konuch

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True Tales Of Growing Up In A BIG Family

Spoiler alert, I get tackled a lot.

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I was born into a fairly large family. I have upwards of twenty-something first cousins, many of who are around the same age as me. It has honestly been both a blessing and a curse to have so many people around me all the time. Some of my favorite memories come from family gatherings where all of my cousins were there. However, since most of my cousins are male, there has also been a lot of physical violence where people get hurt, even if the intentions were innocent. I have so many stories about my family, some of which I won't share here because they are a little bit inappropriate, but others are too good not to share.

The first story I want to share is from this past Easter. Most of my cousins on my Dad's side were at my Papa's house celebrating the holiday. There was so much food we could probably feed a small army. Some of the older cousins decided that we were going to play a game of whiffle ball. All of the cousins who were playing were at least sixteen and some of them were much older. Many of us had or are playing sports in High School or College so this game of whiffle ball got extremely competitive very fast. I ended up being the Umpire/pitcher because I played softball for so long. The game ended with my brothers winning and my other cousins upset that they lost, but it was still one of the memories I will cherish the most even though I definitely threw out my shoulder pitching.

I can remember playing a game of football on Thanksgiving when I was young (maybe five or six). This game, not unlike the whiffle ball game we played at Easter, got super competitive super fast to the point where even I, as a six-year-old, was being pushed and tackled to the ground by much older boys. I honestly can't remember much about that game, maybe I got hit in the head too much, but I do remember having so much fun playing with my cousins.

I've been on a cruise two times in my life, both times with my extended family. One cruise was to Mexico when I was very little. What I remember about that cruise was getting extremely sea sick and that the cleaning staff would make towel monkey on our beds. The cruise was to Alaska when I was a lot older, I think I was fifteen. Since I and my cousins were much older on that cruise, we caused a lot more trouble and were able to get away with it. Every night we would go to the pool and swim. Then, we would go to the buffet and only eat pineapples and mac and cheese. We, also, may have or may not have gone into a bar to sing karaoke. While the cruise was fun, I wouldn't have had such a great time if I wasn't with my family.

While sometimes they can be a pain, having so much family has taught me a lot about communication and playing right. Again, I only have scratched the surface here in regards to the plentiful stories I have, many of which are so much funnier. I love my family so much and I would never trade that in for the world.

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