“Family-where life begins and love never ends.”

When I explain to anyone how big my family is, the conversation usually turns quickly to the sight of dropped jaws and the noise of loud gasps. I am one of three, my mom is also one of three and my dad is one of 11. You read correctly-he's one of 11. So let's take a brief moment to think about this. My mom's two brothers have children, so there's a few of my cousins. The majority of my dad's 10 siblings have children, whose children then have some children and so on. Whether they're my first cousins, second or third, it doesn't matter because they're family. My many aunts and uncles bring more people into our crazy but beautiful clan. The ages vary immensely; from a new member born yesterday to a cousin reaching his 40th year today,

the love is always there.

I could go on for centuries providing a list of amazing perks of having a big family, including the enormous parties and hilarious stories that go back many years, but I'm going to focus on the more important aspects. All in all, family never stops growing; new members join every single day and my family is truly more grand than you can imagine.

Some people may wonder how we “deal” with one another, but it’s not nearly the same as dealing with, for example, a chore you're too lazy to do. We are truly happy to deal with each other. Surprisingly, we look forward to it. There are arguments and disagreements through everyone in any family. Whether it’s a pair of young cousins fighting over the last piece of chocolate cake or a more serious argument among many members, we always hold the power to overlook them and move on.

There may be times when cousins don’t speak to one another for numerous days and siblings for long weeks, but that’s simply a part of this emotion-filled ride we call life. We disagree, we argue, we cry and we yell; we blame others-everyone does. The difference between each member is what makes a big family so astounding. We all aspire to have different occupations, but yet we are constantly intrigued by each members' lives. The excitement of knowing what each person has been up to since you've last seen them is indescribable. Without a doubt, the pros outweigh the cons.

"Family is like fudge, mostly sweet with a few nuts."

Don't get me wrong, it isn't all sappy and rainbows, family can be hassle at times. Tears are shed, we get annoyed with one another, not everyone can agree with a decision made and we fight constantly. But we're family and that's the glory of it. At the end of the day, the hassle turns into thankfulness because...

the love is always there.

There are infinite number of perks regarding how it feels to have a big family, along with the infinite number of members, and it’s impossible to name every single one of them. Times can be tough. Who do you turn to? A major perk of being part of such a large and loving family is the support they provide. You all get through the hard times together and no one is ever alone. When a loved one passes, a sickness occurs, a bone is fractured, a job is denied or a heart is broken, it seems impossible to overcome that feeling.

However, with family it is possible; they provide the strength you can't dig up at the moments you need it most. The connections through my entire family are difficult to put into words; when one person is upset, it affects all of us. We have each other's backs through thick and thin; we never dream of leaving their sides.

“Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.”

Not only is my family my support system at all times, but the lessons I’ve learned from each and every member continue. My mother taught me the importance of self-confidence, my father taught me to believe in myself, my siblings taught me to live life to the fullest, my uncles taught me to laugh whenever I can, my aunts taught me to follow my dreams, my cousins taught me that friendship can be found in anyone and my grandparents taught me the true meaning of family.

Quite honestly, I don’t know where I’d be today if it wasn’t for my vast, wild and wonderful family. We want what's best for one another. We want each and every member to pursue what they believe in. We want to be there for each other; when one person can't be there, that's OK because you have 30+ other people waiting to be your shoulder to cry on.

We are a team.

We are a package deal.

We are best friends.

We are family and the love is always there.

Thank you so much to my amazing family for absolutely everything!