I used to get somewhat offended when my sister would use the term "Aunt" when referring to a close family friend. That was MY title and it was special just for me!!! So I stopped using the "Aunt" at all with my nephew, because if it wasn't going to be special and anyone could be "Aunt So-in-so" then I would just be me. I was OK with that, but it still hurt that the title was given out willy-nilly.
Last weekend, we had a family wedding in town and all my family was here and we had a big cookout and pool party at my sister's place. I was surrounded with my aunts and uncles and cousins when it hit me. My cousin's have children now and they are also cousins. Try explaining that to several 2-5 year olds!!
My cousins, sister and myself came to the conclusion, that, in the eyes of the children, adults would be aunts and uncles and the kids were cousins. It didn't matter if the title didn't match the technical definition because it was something the little kids could understand.
That is when I started thinking maybe I had been wrong to feel slighted in regards to my "title" Family is family and it doesn't really matter the title that one has, because "family" is the only title that matters. My family is very close and my cousins are like brothers and sisters and my aunts and uncles are like parents!
When it comes to small children, they need simple explanations for life and calling someone "Aunt" tells the child, without having to explain it, that this person is special and is a adult to be listened to and is someone who loves them very much.
It would be very cumbersome to try to keep track of who was my great-aunt and I certainly don't call her "Great Aunt G"!! I don't call my cousin's child "Second Cousin P" for goodness sake! Family is family and an aunt is a loved adult and a cousin is a loved child. That is all it needs to be!!
As I have gotten older, I realized that the closeness of my family is not something that everyone has. I got some odd looks when putting in for time off to go to my cousin's funerals. These people were not some distant related person, these were children I grew up with and knew well and felt close to. Their passing was not a small blip on my radar, but a life altering change! Not everyone has that kind of closeness with their "extended family" and I can't help but feel for those people because they are missing out!
This weekend we stayed up talking until after 2am, my cousins and myself. We have done that many times, but this time was the first for me since I've had children. I normally go to bed when the kids do, because I know I'll be up with them in the night. But this time, I threw caution to the wind and had a margarita and some laughs! I noticed how much has changed, we all have children now and the talk was more family focused than when I was a kid. But, I also noticed how little things had changed too. My comedic cousin is still just as funny and I am still the goody-goody who doesn't break the rules and thinks everything through.
My daughter is so close with Smug-Niece that she has started to refer to her as "sister" I had been correcting her until I realized that it too didn't matter! She feels the love of a sister for this person and has decided that this is the title deserved. Who am I to say different?!?