There are a lot of names to remember.
I come from an Irish and German family. I know my parents and my brothers, and I have three pairs of aunts and uncles. That's really where it ends.
My girlfriend comes from a gigantic Italian family, which is basically the exact opposite of my family. Her family has no end.
Seriously, it's a big family. I'm pretty sure that if I traced the genealogy, I could fill the entire state of Texas with her family. At first it was a bit of a shell shock for me. I'm used to family gatherings being quiet affairs. Her family’s gatherings require guest lists and trucks of food.
It's not bad; it's just different. It's more than just her having a large number of names listed underneath her on Facebook. It's a different lifestyle. Here are nine brutal truths I've learned while dating a girl with a large family.
1. You've never met all of them.
Meeting your girlfriend's relatives is like some weird endless tunnel illusion. Just when you think you've met them all, more show up. It never ends.
There's always a new aunt or uncle, or "aunt" or "uncle." Those quotes are there because those people are honorary aunts and uncles. Which is super selfish — the family was already gigantic and they’re adding honorary members? That's crazy.
2. They all know you.
You just added 55 people to your memory, while they just had to add one. Also, since they're all related, they all look kind of similar.
My girlfriend has 55 aunts, and they're all under five feet tall and they yell a lot. Trying to keep track of them is like trying to remember which Oompa Loompa is which.
3. You'll get (playfully, but also at the same time seriously) threatened.
Big families take family very seriously. They'll let you know that if you screw up, they're going to hurt you. Then they'll laugh and let you know that they're just joking.
Then they stop laughing for the most awkward moment ever. This will happen a lot, so get used to it. Also, don't screw up because they probably meant whatever they said.
4. There's an unending string of family gatherings.
When there's a big family, there's always a birthday or wedding or annual cookout happening. My family meets once or twice a year. My girlfriend's family has birthday parties that conflict with wedding anniversaries.
5. Holidays become marathons.
Do you like Thanksgiving dinner? Of course you do — you're a patriot. Well, I get to have Thanksgiving dinner three times. It's delicious, but also I might die.
6. It takes surprisingly less time for news to spread.
People who are impressed with how quickly news spreads on the internet have never seen gossip spread through a big family. As soon as something happens, everyone jumps into action and a web of communication opens up. People start texting, emailing, sending smoke signals, whatever it takes.
7. You finally figure out what things like "second cousin, once removed" means.
You've always heard people talk about second or third cousins, and how removed they are. Most people don't know what that means, but to my girlfriend, a "second cousin, once removed" is Joey. He's Julia's kid, who's her mother’s cousin.
Or something like that. No one's really sure.
8. Saying goodbye is a process.
Whenever it's time to get going, I say something about leaving about a half hour ahead of time. That way, I've got a good buffer for how it's going to take to say goodbye to 8,000 people.
9. No, you REALLY haven't met EVERYONE.
Seriously, don't think you've ever gotten to the end of this tunnel. My girlfriend has relatives that live out in the woods. They're like Bigfoot: I've heard about them but I've only ever seen grainy footage.