Lessons You Learn From Having One Big Happy Family

There's a lot of us.

I have a very big family. But let me break it down for you:

On my father's side, I have two grandparents, 10 aunts and uncles, 15 first cousins and one brother. Add on my parents, my cousins' kids and their spouses, and you've got close to 40 people stuffed into one kitchen on Thanksgiving (pun intended). And that's just my father's side. 

On my mother's side, I have two grandparents, nine aunts and uncles, four first cousins, and about 45 lasagnas at any family gathering. Yes, this side is VERY Italian (shoutout to Grandpa Giacinto Falzetti).

So when you add it all up, that's a ton of people to call your family. 

And I couldn't be more #blessed to have them.

Especially when I realize how much having a big family has taught me over the years.

You see, when you have that many people in your life close to your heart, you start to pick up a lot of life lessons. So without further ado: 

1. Your family's approval actually means a lot. 

And no, I'm not talking about getting your mom to approve of that less-than-appropriate outfit, or trying to get grandma to slug a few beers with you. I'm talking about having your family like who you date, or what you want to do in life. 

2. Because they really do have your best interest at heart. 

3. Living vicariously through your cousins at different ages is the most entertaining thing.

So when your 30-something-year-old cousin has a kid, you're PUMPED. Or when your growing-up-too-fast younger cousin starts college hunting, you're also PUMPED. Or when your 1-year-old cousin celebrates his first birthday, you celebrate too. Because, whatever — you're all family.

4. Cousins give the best advice.

They're like that perfect mix between your mom, your aunt and your best friend. They know exactly what you've been through, relate to your life experiences, and have a realistic handle on it all.

5. When something bad happens, they're a support system that will never leave.

6. They make promises they'll keep, even if it's years and years later.

Like that time I asked my cousin if she'd sing at my wedding, even though I'm single.

7. You'll always have someone to sit with at the kids table, at the adult table, at the party, at the bar, etc., etc.

8. That said, family gatherings mean there's someone there at every age. 

So you can have a deep life conversation with your uncle, play beer pong with the college kids — all while blowing bubbles with the youngin's.

9. You have so many automatic best friends.

10. Holidays are never, ever boring.

11. And when in doubt, a theme makes any holiday an automatic win.

That's right — Thanksgivings in my family come themed (i.e. everyone wears matching flannel).

12. On Christmas, you use speakerphone to call all the Italians at once to wish them a happy holiday.

But who knows what they're saying with everyone fighting to speak.

13. You learn you want to surround yourself with people who are like your family.

They're the people you're born to live with (and, hopefully, that's a good thing).

14. Sometimes, the ones who have lived less remind everyone what's really important.

Like the time my 9-year-old cousin texted me she was going on a trip "just to get away."

15. Partying with the grown-ups is actually really fun.

16. You can fit a lot more people around one television than you think.

17. Hand-me-downs are actually awesome. Both to receive and to give.

My closet gets an excellent spring cleaning. And that sweater is so much cooler just because someone you think is cool wore it.

18. Missing family events is actually ZERO fun. 

"What do you mean you 'can't' come?!"

19. You experience life earlier, and in different ways, because you see everyone else going through it.

20. You always feel protected. Moreover, no matter where you go, you'll always have someone there for you.

You always have someone to reach out to, whether you're traveling around the country or just picking up the phone.

21. You learn how to treat other people with respect.

22. Moreover, you expect the same respect and love you get from your family.

23. And in the end, your family is the best team to be on.

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