Faraway Family

There are hidden benefits to having family scattered across the country.


image by Kendel Barber

Kendel Barber, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Growing up, I always heard my friends talking about their sleepovers with cousins, family birthday parties, and basically being surrounded by extended family all the time. This is a feeling I could rarely relate to. 

My closest extended family lives four hours away in a different state. The next closest after them is nine hours. All of my extended family, including my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, is scattered across seven states and two countries. Even my siblings moved far away when they went to college. When I think about the distance between all of us, it’s depressing. It seems like we miss out on so many moments that most people get to experience in the company of family. 

Before I divulge all of my grievances about my faraway family, I want to point out that I know the distance could be worse. I have friends whose only family is overseas, and visits become utterly impossible. I understand the advantage I have of not only having family in the country, where we can drive to if need be, but also that my family has the ability to do so. I am lucky for the large extended family I have that brings so much comfort and happiness to my life. 

Even so, I would love to be able to see my cousins’ sporting events or spend my birthday with family. I would love to be able to just meet up at a restaurant we all live near or have a surprise Saturday morning visit for breakfast with my aunts.

Thinking about how long it takes to get to one another, I sometimes experience the anxiety of wondering if something bad happens to someone suddenly. We are not always able to bring comfort to one another quickly when in a time of discontent. In the age of social media and technology, the distance is definitely easier to manage, but trying to Facetime my sister with a six-hour time difference is not an easy task. We rely on Facebook or Instagram for updates of our daily lives. 

Despite all of these struggles faced by family far away, I do think there are some hidden positives that come out of our situation. 

We all get to travel a lot. I have visited many places across the US, in part, due to my family being spread out all over the country. Spending Christmas in Colorado, or visiting California in the summer is pretty normal for me, all because I get to visit family there. We have more of an obligation to travel than people with family nearby, which has helped me expand my horizons. I get to escape the bubble that I live in and experience other places. I love the thrill of flying and being in new places. Traveling so frequently from such a young age has always made me wish to experience life somewhere else. 

Occasionally, I get lucky and my family uses the logic that if we are all going to have to fly to get together for the holidays, we might as well go somewhere fun, like the beach in Florida. Then we get to spend vacations in interesting places while also spending quality time with family.

Since we don’t get to see each other much, it makes our occasional meetups, at weddings, graduations, and even the unfortunate funerals, just that much more special. We don’t have time for silly arguments and disagreements; everyone just gets along. When we are together, there is never enough time to get annoyed with each other (except for my siblings), and our time is filled with happiness. 

I treasure the memories I have with my family, and, although I wish to experience the comfort of having everyone nearby, I have learned to cherish every moment with family, knowing that it does not come often.