I really don't know how people do it (like my SIL who is from Tennessee). I never thought about how difficult it would be, before, since I've never had to really deal with it. I saw my grandparents at least twice a year, and they lived 8 hours north of us (in Canada). My family (both sides) always made the effort to see each other. My grandparents came to all of our important events (baby blessings, baptisms, ordinations, high school graduations, weddings, etc.) and I never truly understood that sacrifice, until now.
My brother's family is in northern California, and when my nephew was baptized in December, I was heartbroken I couldn't be there.
My baby brother's wife recently gave birth to a little girl (their second!) and I have no idea when I am going be to able to meet her in person.
Gratefully, my parents are coming to visit us next month! True, they are mostly coming so Brandon and I can go on our official anniversary trip (we'll be gone six of the 12 days they'll be here), but just seeing them again will be wonderful.
Brandon and I have discussed how we can overcome these feelings of homesickness for the family and people we love, as well as the distance (we are so far away! Most of Brandon's family is in California, which makes Utah seem so close) and I think we've figured something out. I know of some friends who take their brood across the country for up to six weeks in the summer to visit family and vacation. Their husbands fly back and forth so they can still work, but still see their family, too. We figured, why not? We could drive out (three days of driving, maybe four), stay for a week in California (maybe do Lake Lopez?), stay for a week in Utah, stay for a week in Idaho, stay for a week in Canada, and then drive back. It makes for a lot of gas, a lot of time, and a lot of driving, but it just might work if we budget it correctly. Of course, as our kids get older, we'll be competing with scout camps, girls' camp, EFY's (something I never considered until moving away from a concentrated Mormon population), jobs (Ash will be 16 in three years), and schooling opportunities. Also, what about other vacations or trips we'll want to take as a family? Camping and such? What about opportunities to see the Eastern side of the United States that we'd miss out on if we do this? Maybe if we did it every other year... I don't know...
Time marches on, and with it, so do priorities. As each new generation marries and has children, they need to start focusing forward and inward. The most important priority in my life right now is my husband and my children. We are to focus on us. Next comes our parents and siblings and their families. Then we reach out to cousins and aunts/uncles. That's just how it is, you know?
But it still makes for some sadness and homesickness for the people we love.
I know for my husband, he grew up in a very large extended family that saw each other significantly. I know he misses that kind of camaraderie, but he also realizes how illogical it is at this point to expect it or force it. I mean, his grandparents had 8 children. We're talking dozens and dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren! It's just too hard to get everyone together, anymore. We just all do the best we can, and forgive each other and ourselves when we can't always make it work. The truth is that we do our best to stay in touch with his grandparents, siblings, and parents more than anyone else, since they are more of a priority, anyway...
And hey! I haven't even touched upon our dear friends that we miss (especially our besties, whom we think of more as family than anything). That would be an entirely new post, since friendships are important, too!!! I miss all my dear friends...
How do you stay in touch with family? How often are you able to see your siblings and parents? If you live a great distance away (as we do, now), what have you done to make sure your familial relationships still thrived?