11 Memories You Can Only Make If You Grew Up In A Close Family

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Playful multi-generation family having fun during autumn day in nature while holding hands and swinging small kids.

1. The silly, matching sweater photos.

Yes, every year you participate in these. It’s the whole fam—mom, dad, Grandma Jean, all the siblings, Aunt Mae and her five kids, all the cousins and the cousins’ kids etc.—and you’re all dressed in those semi-itchy, probably hand-sewn, slightly embarrassing but definitely sentimental sweaters for the annual Family Photo. (But no matter how much you pretend to hate the ordeal, you have to admit, the sweater pics actually do turn out pretty cute.)

2. The inside jokes that get brought up at every family dinner.

No one will never forget that one time your uncle brought his crazy girlfriend to Sunday Night Football. In fact, it’s just become a part of the classic family jokes. No matter what you do, in a close family, you’ll never live down your most embarrassing moments. But the best part is that they become inside jokes, legends, memories that are so good, you can’t help but crack up when they get shared…again.

3. The impromptu cooking lessons.

In a close family, recipes are gold, and learning how to make the staple dishes that have been passed down for generations is considered priceless. Cooking lesson happen randomly and often. It might be at Grandma’s for Thanksgiving, or one Sunday afternoon when mom just needs some help stirring the chicken noodle soup. In a close family, food is central, and memories all surround food—that’s just the way it is. (Thank goodness, because food = life.)

4. The annual family reunion.

These get crazy, but will forever be some of your most favorite childhood memories. From eating until you literally felt sick to running around with your second cousins, to dancing on your great uncle’s toes on the dancefloor, family reunions are full of laughter, drinks, food, and happiness.

5. The Christmas video (and other recorded moments.)

Everything. Is. On. Tape. I repeat. Everything. In a close family, videography is a way of life. Your dad has a camcorder set up on Christmas morning, mom has shelves of old tapes from when you were a baby, and someone in the extended family always makes a video collage for the reunion. Videotaping everything—from that one time you fell off the trampoline to your sister’s first choral concert—is just a way of life in a close family. Best part? You often go through those old videos as a family and they bring back some of the most special memories.

6. The dinner bonding time.

Family dinner was always a must. Everyone home at the same time, everyone talking about their days, everyone fighting over the dessert. Eating together was always important and valued in your family. It brought everyone together and it was always filled with good stories and full bellies.

7. The holiday rituals.

Every holiday came with its own set of family rituals. Halloween was going to that one pumpkin patch with the singing skeleton and Jack-O-Lantern carving. Fourth of July included fireworks and a family photo with everyone (including the dog) wearing/holding an American flag. Easter was the ultimate sibling rivalry egg hunt. In a close family, every special event called for a special set of rituals (and a special memory).

8. The classic, sibling blooper photos.

Whether it was a casual pic taken after your sister’ soccer game or a holiday card for all the extended family and friends, you and your sibs could never get it together enough to have a good shot. But these ‘blooper pics’ with your dog jumping in the middle of the frame, or your brother giving your sister a wet willy—those always made for the best, most unforgettable (and somehow always on Great Aunt Jo’s fridge) pictures.

9. The family group text.

Oh boy, where to begin. This group chat includes everything from endless pics of the dog sleeping to long-winded ramblings about weird dreams to directions on how to clean the drain in the bathroom. Group texts are life in a close family. It’s a way to get ahold of everyone quickly while never leaving a single funny moment undocumented or unshared.

10. The sibling rivalry.

Cue the ongoing board game battles, races around the backyard, and competition for MVP on the basketball team. In a close family, almost everyone participated in the same things—which could be totally ridiculous sometimes, but definitely awesome. There was always some healthy(ish) fighting over who was the best or better, which could drive you crazy, but ended up bringing you all together, especially as you got older and everyone found their ‘thing.’

11. The bedtime snuggles.

You and your younger sibs crawled into the same bed and listened to your older sister read you a story, mom kissed you on the cheek and turned on your nightlight, dad came and sang you and your sister a sleeping song—whatever the nighttime ritual, it was a big part of your younger years. A close family means special memories, and beautiful moments that stick with you, even into adulthood.

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Marisa is a writer, poet, & editor. She is the author of Somewhere On A Highway, a poetry collection on self-discovery, growth, love, loss and the challenges of becoming.

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