Why I am especially thankful for my extended family

How much time do you spend thinking about your extended family? Furthermore, how much time do you spend in contact with them? If you have tight relationships with your Great Uncle Jimmy and your fourth cousin Betty, then that is awesome. However, I do not think this is the case for most of us.

I just got home after spending a week with my extended family on my grandmother’s side in Danville, Virginia, and it was wonderful.

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I’ll give you the quick backstory. My Grandma, Mary Mitchell Rippy, is one of seven children. Including herself, five of them are still living, and four of them still reside in their hometown of Danville. In her twenties, my Grandma moved to Atlanta with my Pawpaw, and together they raised their family here. In short, this is how I came to be.

Since we are the only part of the family in Georgia, we have taken many trips to Danville over the years to reunite with our family time and time again. This Thanksgiving, we took another trip. We typically go once every three or so years, and it is always such a sweet, sweet time.

Our most recent trip is what inspired this post, and I hope it will prompt you to reflect, even for a moment, upon your heritage.

It is quite humbling to take a moment to consider how specific actions are responsible for your very being, and if just one decision had been altered, you may not even exist. Woah.

This really hit home to me when my mom, Grandma, great aunt, and myself decided to drive to my Great Grandma and Grandpa Mitchell’s old home. I could not believe that I had never seen it after all of these years.

It may sound strange, but I would describe the experience as breathtaking. The house has been refinished, and it is currently for sale, but the minute we pulled up a large grin overtook my mom’s face.

“This is where I used to visit Grandma Mitchell. This back porch is where we sat and ate dinner. If you look through the window, you can see the stairs that lead to the room where we slept. We had so much fun here,” my mom said.

It was so neat to travel back in time in my mind to my mom being a young girl visiting her grandparents.

Other experiences throughout the week were equally as interesting. We visited my Great Uncle David and Great Aunt Hazel, my grandma’s brother and sister-in-law. They reside in the first house my great grandparents’ owned. Since then, David has refinished the entire home himself. We heard stories about how there was no bathroom and how he tore down a wall to build one. We walked through the rooms that all of the siblings slept in: four girls in one small room- I can only imagine.

Throughout the week, we looked at old photos. My facial features are nearly identical to those of my great grandma. It is no secret that I come from this family.

Although busy, a week spent visiting family can be quite joyful. It is neat to visit with my Great Aunt Charlie Mae, but it is kind of eerie to think, “What if my great grandparents would have stopped having children after her?” If this were the case, I would not be here.

I also considered other events down the line. What if my Grandma had chosen to stay in Danville like her siblings? She wouldn’t have met my Pawpaw, and she wouldn’t have had my mom who had me.

It is cool to listen to “stories from the old days,” look at pictures, and even visit places special to your family realizing that all of these are merely pieces that complete you. They are a part of your DNA.

I spent my Thanksgiving among over 30 members of my extended family, and I am thankful. I am thankful for the reminder that I am so small, but that because of people who have come before me, I am destined for big things.

Xoxo, Marlee

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