Our holiday to Australia and Malaysia had many highlights. For all three of our children, one of the biggest was the opportunity to meet their extended family.
For both Heather and me, our families in the UK are relatively small. On my side, there is only my parents, brother and a single cousin. On hers, there is a smattering of aunts, uncles and cousins, but we only see a few of those.
However, in Australia the kids met a broad array of new family members on both Heather’s dad’s and stepmum’s sides. (One of these days I will get my head around how ‘step’, ‘half’, ‘great’ and ‘second’ relationships work.) It certainly broadened the kids’ horizons as they were introduced to three generations of new relatives. They took it all in their stride and fully embraced it.
It was the same in Malaysia. Here they only came into contact with my dad’s side of the family. However, given that he is one of ten siblings, that still means I have more aunts, uncles, cousins and second cousins than I could possibly count – let alone remember.
It wasn’t just meeting other members of the family of a similar age that excited our kids. Or even the way they quickly attached themselves to child-friendly elders. It was more the basic concept of knowing how far and wide their family extends. The comfort and sense of belonging that comes from being part of a larger network of relatives, if you will.
Which is why this photo from our last night in Malaysia – and others like it from Australia – is one of my favourites of the entire holiday. It was great for the kids to know they are part of large and welcoming families. It’s better still that they can now easily stay in touch via email, messaging and Skype. And hopefully it won’t be too long before we get the chance to see them again and capture another family selfie.