Friday, December 23, 2011

Day 37, 63 to go: Family address stickers

Tracking large Catholic family
Over 10 years ago, long before there was Facebook or even myspace, I set up some family websites at  It has been a great way to communicate with my numerous siblings, their kids and my mom.  We only have to post our news once, rather than making a bunch of phone calls or having separate emails to update each other. The threaded conversations have been amazing-- enlightening, entertaining, touching, and mostly encouraging.

We have been able to post pictures, have a running calendar of birthdays, anniversaries, graduations etc.  There is a feature that allows us to make up polls.  (Wanna know our favorite Christmas specials?) We can share files, recipes, jokes, stories and generally keep track of each other despite distance and asynchronous schedules.

Early on, I assembled a Word document that everyone could download to print out address stickers for our immediate and extended families.  We have not been at all good about updating it.  One of my sisters (Borg #6 of 8) requested an update, so I have been working most of the day trying to gather information from various sources to update it.

Looking at all that has changed over the last 10 years has been a fascinating exercise.  So many of our cousins’ children have moved out on their own and started families.  My sisters (#5 and 6) have had 4 kids between them who were not even imagined the last time the list was updated.

In the extended family, we have lost several aunts and uncles and some of my parents’ cousins.  People have moved from their family homes to senior living arrangements – or in with their children.  It’s just the circle of life which comes into sharp focus when you look back at 10 years in one document.  So the thing I am making today is not especially crafty, but it is a gift of love for my family as I try to organize the information for the next few years.  I will try to do this annually if I can from now on. 

When I am done, we should be able to have a general idea of where we are, where the college-aged nieces are,  all of our first cousins' addresses (including the priest in Kenya), some of their kids, some 2nd cousins and assorted family friends.

I realize that I will be tempting Murphy’s law when I upload it.  I will just be daring the Fates to change some information.  Hopefully they will be some good changes.  Our Aunt Marion died over the weekend at the ripe old age of 96 (the funeral was Monday) and it was hard for me to remove her from the list.  It helped that I could add some of her great grandchildren though. 

So I have spent the day thinking about how our families evolve over time—even if the family of choice is cats.  When I logged onto Facebook this evening, I learned that 2 women I used to work with died.  Both were much younger than I am and had children—aged 10, 13 and 15.  Just so sad and such a shock.  I feel for their children who will endure this anniversary every year at Christmastime.   

I know some of how they feel.  When I was flipping through channels earlier, I came across a memorial service at Arlington National Cemetery on C-span for the 270 people who died during the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland on December 21, 1988.  I know exactly where I was when I heard the news that two of our friends returning from a college semester abroad had been murdered.  Sudden unfathomable death out of time and right before Christmas.  I listened as they read the names of 268 strangers and two friends during that ceremony. 

And then we had birthday dinner for my sister (#7 of 8).  She was a year or two older than those girls who died.  I know how lucky I am to have all 7 of my siblings and my mom—all healthy (knock wood) at Christmas, not to mention the Gang of 11  nieces and nephews, many of whom have been wearing new pajamas this week.

I should be done with this list soon and hope to return to our regularly scheduled craftiness.

Hug your loved ones, (especially the catlings) and tell them how you feel about them.  Time is short. And it’s Christmas/Hanukkah/Festivus. 

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