One of the main reasons I got into genealogy was because by drawing a few branches of the family tree I could clarify for my daughter and her family how they were related to various individuals they met whenever they visited England. The English contingent were always well aware of who their Swiss relatives were, but it was sometimes a little confusing for the Swiss side because both my parents came from large families and I have countless cousins. Hard for my children to remember who belonged to whom when they only met up with them once in a blue moon.
I was reminded of this yesterday, as we enjoyed a lovely family barbecue in the garden of my cousin’s daughter S. Currently, my eldest granddaughter and her two little ones are visiting us. S has two little girls approximately the same age as my great-grandson Severin, and her brother A has a little boy who was born only a few days after Severin.
The question of the degree of consanguinity arose a year ago, on their last visit, and I concluded that Severin and Mireille are fourth cousins once removed of yesterday’s playmates. Many will argue that this is hardly any blood relationship at all, with barely any shared genes, but that doesn’t bother the kids. Severin is their Swiss cousin, somewhat exotic because he speaks a strange language, but that was no barrier to them playing merrily together and he is still enamoured of the little strawberry blonde he fell in love with last year. Great-granddaughter Mireille is everyone’s darling, not only when she’s asleep!
My mother used to have a friend who referred to me as “Auntie’s little girl”. When she met my daughter, we laughingly explained that this was “Auntie’s little girl’s little girl”. She would have been amazed yesterday to see my mother with “Auntie’s little girl’s little girl’s little girl’s little girl” – her great-great-granddaughter. And even though my daughter wasn’t there, her generation was represented by my cousin’s son and daughter so it was, in fact, a five-generation picnic. And a wonderful time was had by all!
I wasn’t taking photos because the sun was too bright for my phone camera – others were, and I’m relying on them to supply me with a family group on which some of us will be grinning like idiots and others grimacing like monkeys. I know from experience that it’s virtually impossible to take a photo of 15 people all looking civilised, especially when half of them are children. But isn’t that precisely what makes such pictures worth keeping and sharing?