I come from a very large family. I have so many first, second and third cousins that it's sometimes hard to keep track of who belongs to who. Besides the whole lot we see at Christmas and basically forget about for the other 11 months of the year, I have a pretty good number of close family too. My dad and his siblings all live pretty close to each other and their family home. We are all, at most, a half hour drive from each other. There are 16 of us in total, only counting my grandparents, their children and their spouses, and their grandchildren. Growing up I rarely went a week without seeing at least most them. It was almost like having three extra siblings and a few sets of extra parents. Having so many close family members was great, but like most things in life, also has its downsides. For example:
Pros: Every year each person in the family gets a birthday celebration. Some of them are mashed into one, but still, everyone gets a celebration complete with cake and presents. The greatest part is that there is always a room full of people who love you and want to celebrate you.
Cons: The problem with celebrating everyone's birthday is that you have to actually remember and prepare for each one of them. Finding a night that almost 20 people are all free is difficult, but doing that 20 times in one year is near impossible. On top of the planning, there is also the fact that gifts aren't cheap. I hate to complain about money, but when you have a lot of family and want to give them all the things they want and deserve, the bill can really add up.
Pros: I recently got back from a week-long vacation with 16 family members. We had a fantastic time, and I'm so glad everyone was there together. Sometimes it can be hard to agree on exactly what to do, but when you're in a large group, it's easy to split up and still not be alone. In most cases, at least one other person is going to want to do what you want to do. While it's awesome to have a buddy to do something with, that's not the best part. The best part is the times you don't split up. Dinners, shows and outings of 17 people all having a great time together is a rare and wonderful thing.
Cons: Unfortunately, getting to those moments of happy togetherness can be a bit of a headache. Finding a few people who want to do what you want to do is easy, but getting almost 20 people to be happy with a plan is definitely not. It often feels like someone is getting the short end of the stick. In the end, though, the headache is usually worth it.
Pros: Although arguing is inevitable in families, there can be an upside when there's a lot of people in that family. Chances are, no matter what you're arguing about, you'll find at least one ally with a similar point of view. The best part, however, is when they come to your defense whether they agree or not. Arguing with other family is fine, but once an outsider picks a fight with you, you have an army backing you the whole way.
Cons: Unfortunately, it's just as easy to find someone who disagrees with you as it is to find one who agrees. When there's so many close family members in one place, a one on one argument can quickly turn into a 10 on 10 battle with no clear winner and lots of inflamed tempers.
Pros: With a big family, every celebration is a big celebration. First Communions, graduations, sports games and competitions all become a big deal with a huge cheering section. Even when not everyone can make it, 10 people cheering you on is pretty encouraging.
Cons: The problem is that, at least with my family, it can be a bit embarrassing. They scream your name, bring impossible to miss signs and make themselves known as your family. Whether you like it or not, they're going to support you.
Pros: With a lot of close cousins, there's always someone to share with or give and get hand me downs from. We are constantly calling each other to borrow this or that - games, cars, tools, etc. Why go buy something for a one-time use when you can take a short drive and borrow it from someone you love?
Cons: Unfortunately, this goes for things you don't necessarily want to share. Family members tend to think that sharing blood entitles you to sharing everything else. Your plate is their plate. If your sister or cousin needs a black sweater to go with that new dress, your closet is the best shop in town. If you just got a new video game, your TV will be crowded by familiar faces. If there's anything you really don't want to share, you better lock it up.
Pros: When you have a secret and need someone to share it with, you have a whole slew of people to choose from. The best part? They're family. Who can you trust more?
Cons: There is a condition, though. They won't tell anyone your secret...except for each other. You have a crush? You did something embarrassing? Don't tell anyone if you don't want everyone to know. It will stay locked in the family, but they won't let you forget it.