Very rarely in life do I actively miss my extended family. I see at least parts of them often enough that it's not super common for me to think "geez, I really miss being with those guys."

But this semester, I haven't seen really any of my extended family.

I didn't realize it until a friend of mine made an offhand comment that made me think of them. And then, all of a sudden, I missed them actively and acutely. I had this really intense longing to be in the comfort of my family and nothing I did could quite shake that feeling. It would go away for a little while and then a song would come on or I would smell something that reminded me of being with my fam and it would come back.

I should back up and say that I come from a HUGE extended family.

I have about 20 first cousins, so it's rare to have less than thirty at any family gathering. That being said, it's also really hard to get everyone (or even most of us) together at once. But when we do gather, it's a huge party. People from outside the family are really easily overwhelmed by the sheer number of us and by how loud and crazy we are. Every time I see that, I become that much more thankful to be a part of my family, to be "in" on the shenanigans.

But missing them is more than missing the stuff we do together.

It's missing this feeling of deep belonging and love. I know, I hear how cheesy that sounds, but it's true. I don't have to worry about whether or not they'll like me because they've seen me at my worst (I mean, come on, they knew me in middle school and still love me). There's a certain warmth and safety that comes from being surrounded by people who have known your for your entire life. I think of the times that I'm with my people as being a lot like the holidays for other people; there's just something that's a little warmer, a little happier, a little fuller, a little more than other times of the year. It's like that for me when I'm with my family, whether it's a holiday or not.

Now don't get me wrong, my family isn't this perfect unit that's always fun and loving and happy. We have our fair share of stress, annoyances, and differing opinions. But, I don't remember the last time that we let those truly get in the way of having a good time together. I guess it has something to do with the fact that we don't all see each other very often. Or maybe we're just weirdly close?

Sure, sometimes I get overwhelmed by all of the people and the noise and the chaos, but I also feel strangely at home in it. I mean, I've spent time with these people my entire life. For as long as I can remember, we've all been cramped into our grandmother's too small, too hot house, scrambling to get the best chairs or the best food or even just to pick on one another. Some of my happiest memories are of having an all-out marshmallow war in the living room and of having "cousins sleepovers" in the floor.

"My people" are the ones who've known me my whole life; they've not only shared in my highest and lowest moments, but they've lived them as some of their own. Some of my best memories have come from nothing more than being with them and letting things unfold. So to my people, thank you for being all that you are. See you soon!