I come from a very large family (my grandmother on my mother’s side had 20 siblings for example!) and even though I have only been alive 22 years I have seen more than my fair share of death and disease. This is probably one of the few downsides of being from a large family. Of course, being from a large family doesn’t just mean a lot of aunts, uncles, cousins, 2nd cousins, etc. it also means a lot of family friends who are pretty much family.

There have been plenty of occasions where I’ve said to my mother “Oh, wait, you mean that we’re not related to them?!” or “Huh, I thought I just called them ‘uncle’ or ‘aunt’ because we are so close. I didn’t know we were actually related!”. I’m also adopted by my stepfather so that brings even more family members and friends into play. Recently we lost someone very close to our family and we’re looking at another loss very soon. The year of 2016 has brought on a lot of loss and tears for us all and I can’t say that as the years have gone by and we’ve lost more and more people (there are only 4 of those 21 original children left now) it hasn’t gotten easier.

Life is short and I believe that it’s important to cherish every single moment of it and spend as much time with the ones you love as you can. Don’t wait until something bad happens to realize that you need more time with them or that now it’s too late. One of the things I plan on sharing in future posts is our family traditions. We have some family traditions that have been around since long before I was born and some that are more recent like in the last few years.

Something I encourage people to do if they can afford it is check out Ancestry.com, you can create a free account if you cannot afford to be a member but one of the great things about this website is that it really does help you find family members and learn about your family’s history. For example, I always knew I had some Native American in me on my mother’s side but I didn’t know what kind or how much. We’ve recently learned that we are part Lenni-Lenape and have connected with other family members in other states who’ve shared photos with us!

Another thing we did quite a few years ago was create a Stewart Family Cookbook (my maternal grandmother’s family) and in it many people offered up recipes from other members who’ve passed and some newer recipes. We also created a family tree in the recipe to see the names, birth-dates, death-dates, spouses, and children of each of the siblings. Now, this was quite a few years ago so within the last month my mother, Nan, and I have come together and found a website called Heritage Cook Books that helps you create a family history type of cookbook at a low price. We are going to be collecting recipes from our remaining family members and creating a new updated version of the old cookbook.

Do any of you have family traditions that you’d like to share? Any suggestions for our family? Let us know in the comments below!Great Nana, Lenni-Lenape, Lenape, Native American, American Indian, Family History, Heritage, Family, Family Heritage, Family cookbook, heritage cookbook, family traditions, holiday traditions, family memories, memories, traditions, love, memories