Wedding Afterglow: My American-Aussie-UK Family

Our global family together in one place

Our global family together in one place for the first time

In the afterglow of my son and belle-fille’s wedding, we continued family celebrations with an early birthday dinner for Clive.

Clive’s real birthday is in November, but the occasion of the wedding meant that for the first time ever – though we hope not the last – we had all our children and stepchildren together in the same physical location. It was a perfect opportunity to gather together and celebrate family, in addition to my beloved husband’s upcoming birthday.

Music-loving Clive ready to blow out the candles on his birthday cake

Music-loving Clive ready to blow out the candles on his birthday cake

Our immediate global family, not counting parents, consists of my son and his wife; my U.S. stepson, his wife and their three sons; my Aussie stepson, his wife, their two sons and one daughter; and my Aussie stepdaughter.

There’s so much I could write – and have written – about these individuals, not least of which is their kindness and generosity in welcoming Clive and me into their respective families.

Seven precious adults, including my son’s wife, the most recent addition to this group

Seven precious adults, including my son’s wife, the most recent addition to this group

At some point several years ago, the American family and the Aussie family – they’d never met in person, except for my son — had heard enough about each other that they became long-distance friends via social media and email. They gradually learned more and more about each other’s lives and their children’s lives.

To Clive’s and my heartfelt gratitude, it also happened at some point that the parents agreed it could be a bit complicated when explaining to their children how everyone was related. Clive’s daughter-in-law, for example, could say to her son, when speaking about one of the American boys, ‘He is Daddy’s stepbrother’s half-brother’s son.’ Conversely, my U.S. stepson, when speaking to his sons about the Aussie boys, could say, ‘They are Uncle Gary’s stepbrother’s sons.’

These wonderful parents then decided (without our involvement) to skip all the ‘step’ and ‘half’ descriptions and agreed, ‘let’s not worry about being technically accurate. We’re brothers and sisters and our kids are cousins.’

Before the wedding, the mothers discussed what their children would call the adults, and agreed simply on ‘Uncle’ and ‘Aunt’ – the only remaining question was then: how would they all react to each other when they finally met in person?

I guess families are families and kids are kids. Despite there not being a perfect fit regarding ages (children ranging from almost-5 to 13), the Americans and Aussies seemed to click right from the start. They met in person for the first time at the rehearsal dinner, sat together at the wedding, and the children played together the weekend after the wedding.

Three Americans and three Aussies at Clive’s birthday dinner

Three Americans and three Aussies at Clive’s birthday dinner

Whether clowning around for the camera, playing games in our hotel room, going to a playground or having quiet time in the lobby while their parents chatted over a final coffee, everyone seemed to get along great.

Getting along & being silly for the camera

Clowning around for the camera – I guess they all get along

Playing games in our hotel room

Playing games in our hotel room

The two youngest Aussie-American cousins

Comfortable with each other – the two youngest Aussie-American cousins

We’re not sure if or when an occasion like this will happen next, but we hope it won’t be too many years before we can get this group together once again.

Thank you to my Aussie stepson for the lovely words he said about his father (and me) at the birthday dinner; to my son and belle-fille for joining us the evening after their wedding; to the magnificent moms (or mums) who guided their children to call each other cousins and aunts and uncles; and to the whole family for making it such a memorable birthday get-together.

Until next time, we’re thankful everyone is back safe and sound to their respective homes, including me and Clive. We’re happy to see our tree by the sea in England and will have a more local celebration for Clive’s real birthday when the time comes.

Back home in England - our tree by the sea, Felixstowe

Home in England – our tree by the sea, Felixstowe

Cheers and thanks for reading. Next week’s letter will be from Felixstowe.

3 Responses

  1. A fabulous family story. I understand about the half/step part too. We are also family together too. A amazing that you were ALL in one place at the same time !!! A big achievement considering you all live on different continents. My immediate family all live in the UK and even then it is a huge problem. ..Great that Clive had super early celebrations with everyone too. Beautiful wedding and people. xx Take care and enjoy your tree in Felixstowe xx Anne

  2. Hi Carolyn and Clive,
    Bravo!!! (Appaluse!)
    I think that your family story is a beautiful story of love and acceptance.
    You are right… those pesky “step” and “half” words don’t need to be! It’s sooo much more fun like that!
    I don’t see my family as often as I like, either. It’s a LONG hike to Hawaii and California from Europe! Thank goodness for internet and telephone!

    A very happy early birthday to Clive. Wooo!!
    xox

  3. Annie, thank you! It’s actually helpful to realise getting families together at the same time is a challenge no matter what the geography — three continents does indeed complicate (and add cost & time) the challenge.

    xpat92, thank you too and you really get it about the distance — couldn’t agree more about keeping in touch using today’s technology. That really helps to keep the two-way communication lines flowing, thank goodness 🙂

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