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Southern Relativity

I recently watched one of those “finding your roots” type shows on TV and thought I’d take a minute to discuss the complicated matter of Southern genealogy.

FamilyTree_webBasically, it goes like this: Southerners extend the branches of the family tree to include any leaves, twigs or nuts that happen to brush against them.

For example, I tell people I have relatives in Chicago. My brother’s wife’s younger sister lives there. I like to refer to her as my sister-in-law, once removed. By Southern calculations we are blood kin, because both of us are “aunt” to the same children—who, by the way, are brilliant and beautiful because we’ve never had an ugly child in our family

My sister-in-law, once removed, whom we’ll call “Alyson,” since that’s her name, got married a little over a year ago. Her husband, whom the brilliant, beautiful children call “Uncle Mike,” got grafted onto the family tree as well. He’s now related to me by marriage. However, his parents, whom I met only briefly at the wedding—lovely people— would be considered distant relations.

How far do the branches on your family tree extend?

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4 comments

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  1. Alyson

    I was discussing this a few years ago with a certain author whose name might possibly rhyme with Fickie Vee. I had been advised that she was the family expert on what title should be applied to what distant relation, and could easily distinguish between a second cousin three times removed and a third cousin twice removed. So I asked this expert whether I should refer to Mr. (F)ohn (J)ee as my “brother-in-law-in-law,” and she replied, “Well, John is really nothing to you.”

    (F)ohn (J)ee, this is why I rarely call or write. The expert has declared that you are *nothing* to me now. I just don’t know whether you my second nothing, my nothing-in-law, or a third nothing twice removed for bad behavior.

    1. Vickie Fee

      Alyson, of course John is “something” to you after all these years and all you’ve been through. However, he could never possibly be as much “something” to you as I am! I think you should make up your own title for him based on your level of emotional attachment 🙂

  2. Pam Hamrin

    You forgot to mention the bonding of the aunt convocation which I am sure helped to create the familial ties that bind.

    1. Vickie Fee

      Shh! We weren’t going to let Madeline and Seth know that the aunts had convened! 🙂

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