Friday, 8 October 2010

Estonia visit and families

This weekend we visited Lee's Estonian relatives. We had an excellent time meeting, exploring, playing and staying with them. Mostly, we spent time with Mari-Ann's cousin Riina, and her family. They are a very close family and it set me to wondering what elements create a close family.
Was it the fact that in the 400 years of Estonia's history, only in the last 19 years have they had independence? (With a false start in 1920) So they appreciate freedom and the important things in life?
Was it a strong (vocal?) matriarch? Riina is a strong woman.
Was it living in close proximity? All four of Riina's children live in Tartu, or within 10km.
Is it having young kids in the family? Riina has grandchildren between 3 (I think) and 18 (over the weekend).

If I step back from my own family, who I believe are fairly close, it starts with values. Family values that family is important and spending time with family is important. Feeling loved and close meant spending quality time with each other.

It just so happens that I come from a family with a strong matriarch, so I can't be sure whether this is a necessary part or not. I wonder how much you have to actually like each other. Raised by the same parents does guarantee some of the same beliefs and values, but as we grow up, different experiences are bound to shape the people we become. Perhaps a strong matriarch can remind us of those initial values and bring us together. (I imagine a strong patriarch could be similar.)

Australia is a long way from 400 years of oppression. But I hope it will not trivialize it too much to relate this to hardship. For us, hardship was mostly borne by our parents. In my opinion, financial insecurity had the greatest impact. We never lacked the essentials, and we weren't distracted by an endless supply of toys.

As for geography, I don't think our family can really claim proximity - mostly because of me. I'm in London, my sister in Perth, brothers in Geraldton and parents in Mingenew. Closeness in geography doesn't always guarantee frequent contact. It does make it easier though. Perhaps I should revise proximity to frequent contact then. I feel close to my family through fairly frequent Skype calls - although now I have a job (Yay!) that may change (oh).

Young kids have brought our family together. My brothers both have kids and there's a joy in spending time with them and watching them learn and grow. There's a newness to it - each new development is a discovery, an achievement, a delight, and these new developments are so quick and frequent - I don't want to miss a thing. They just grow up so fast!

Whatever it is that guarantees a close and loving family, I hope that we can do that with our own family.

Riina's family:
  • Eero, and girlfriend Edi. Eero also has 2 older kids.
  • Urmo, wife Merje, twins Emma and Ekke.
  • Kaari, husband Egert, son Eik Martin, and daughter Mia Laura. (Lots of games of Sabateur)
  • Karina (~16 years old)
  • and German exchange student Freya.
Photos coming soon.

Some Estonian words we learnt
Please - Palun (p/balloon)
Thankyou - Tänan (danun)
Thanks - Aitah (aeta)
Hello - Tere (t/der-re)
Goodbye - Nagamiste (Nah-ga-meast)

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