I come from a family which is fairly small; I have one sibling, each of my parents has one sibling, there are rarely more than two kids on any family branch and many of us are far-flung. My brother lives across the country from me and we lead very different lives.
I think it’s safe to say that I am intrigued by large and/or close families.
As a result, I’ve apparently developed a habit of marrying into those sorts of families. (Yes, let’s refer to my marriages as “habits.” That should delight both ex and current husband alike.) The idea of a big crazy group of people who voluntarily spend time together just because they’re related appeals to me. I had childhood fantasies of having a whole gang of siblings, and seeing the interactions of those who do fascinates me.
In nine years of marriage I never felt like I penetrated the “inner sanctum” when it came to my ex’s family. In hindsight I have lots of theories as to why that was the case—most of which I cannot share here—but I think it’s safe to say that I was not exactly the most popular in-law. And now that we’re divorced I think it’s safe to say that they all hate my guts because I am the devil. Ahem.
Although I’ve known Otto for nearly 18 years, I met most of his family for the first time about four years ago. We’ve not spent a huge amount of time together, but already I sense that this is a completely different situation than my previous in-law scenario. For one thing, Otto is the oldest of his siblings, and his family seems very relieved that he’s found someone to put up with him after all these years. For another, I have the oldest children (theoretically rendering me the voice of seasoned motherhood, although I think it mostly means I just yell more) and am not above bribing my nephews with cake in the name of currying favor.
What I’m trying to say is, they seem to like me. And I like them. I would say this would be perfect for a cheesy line of greeting cards, but the affection we have for one another is expressed mostly through Otto’s brothers cracking on me non-stop while I threaten to write incriminating things about them on the internet.
It’s just like we’re really siblings!
In fact, I keep meaning to write about the fact that the older of Otto’s two younger brothers is completely OBSESSED with the fact that I have not ASSIGNED HIM A NICKNAME here on the blog. He would like a nickname. As soon as he told me that I mentally vowed to leave him nickname-less as long as possible. Not to be mean, you understand, but just because it seemed like the thing to do.
Otto’s youngest brother is getting married next summer. We had given the family strict instructions of NO GIFTS prior to the wedding, because we are grown-ups with two housefuls of stuff and what do we need? But this brother informed us at dinner that they’d bought us something but left it on the coffee table at home. “That’s such a coincidence,” Otto replied, “because I bought something for YOUR wedding and left it on your coffee table!” Har har. I forgot about this exchange until tonight, when Otto told me a package had arrived for us from his brother. He asked me if he should open it and I told him to go ahead.
To fully appreciate what comes next you have to know that Otto could navigate his way home if you dropped him somewhere in the Himalayas. In the dark. Blindfolded. He’s one of THOSE guys. Me, I can still get lost going to the grocery store I’ve frequented for the last seven years.
Otto opened the package and found a GPS unit. After squealing like a little girl on Christmas morning (and remembering that when I’d told his brother, “But you weren’t supposed to buy anything!” he’d responded with “This is something you’re really going to want, trust me”), I naturally declared that this brother is now my favorite in-law.
Because I’m all about family. And having a little computer that will tell me when I’m being directionally-challenged.