Extended Family..No.. Really Extended

I wanted to write about some people I find interesting. They are my husband’s cousin and his wife, and this got me thinking. According to American culture, am I actually related to my husband’s cousin’s wife? I’d like to think so, because they’re awesome people. Is that too far extended though? Where is the line drawn? Does it start with her family? I don’t really feel like I am related to her brother, although clearly she is.

I will give a real exampIe about complicated extended family relations.  I have the privilege of having a great Grandfather, like so many of you. The distinguishing feature of my grandfather is that he has a prolific amount of prodigy. According to various accounts, he had three wives through marriage and divorce. Each of these of wives had 9 children. If you are keeping track at home, there are 27 children so far. This is a good amount.

My great grandfather led an interesting life as a railroad man. This is where, shall we say the folklore, lies. The man has 27 known legitimate children. Well, a short time ago, he died and how many children do you think showed up to his funeral? Over forty were in attendance. It seems his railroad activities were conducive to certain other ones. This brings me to my point. How extended is too extended? My family has large families, so attributing 4 kids per set of parents is not out of reason, probably on the low side. If my great grandpa’s children each had 4 children, that is over 160 families at my dad’s generation. (My dad is one of 5 by the way.) If each of those children have 4 children, that is over 640 families. I have no words for this. At my age, those families have started families. I have a stinking family forest. How extended is too extended?

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