“A family of [thirteen] children will always be called a fine family, where there are heads and arms and legs enough for the number.” -Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey
Miss Austen said “ten children,” but it suits my purposes to say thirteen, as I will soon be amongst such a family, wherein I am thirteenth of the forty-six grandchildren born to the thirteen children. We must certainly be called a fine family, for we are duly possessed of all proper appendages, however well or poorly we may employ them. We are all, however, well endowed with an awareness of the distinction of belonging to such a family.
Traditions cannot be very numerous when there are such large numbers to keep them; nonetheless, in two days we will gather for the traditional pot of potato soup and the traditional roasts and rolls, the traditional sittings for the annual snap-shot of each family, the traditional ripping of wrapping paper, the traditional noise of many children, and the traditional passing of babies from hand to hand. There will be those who know everyone’s name, and those who only remember their own names, those who will not stop talking, and those who will not be made to talk. Some will enjoy it immensely, and some will not. But none will leave without being a bit astonished, I suspect, at our numbers; all must certainly realize that there is a certain importance in belonging to such a family. I hope they will be glad; I intend to be.