I spent a busy family weekend with my husband, daughter, son-in-law, grandsons and my son-in-law’s parents. At my grandson’s 4th birthday celebration, we were joined by my son-in-law’s sister, her husband, niece and nephew. A lot of words to describe the relationships, but little clarity! Yiddish, on the other hand, is one of those languages that has some great, phlegmmy, tongue-twisting words that attempt to explain these ties. My daughter’s in-laws are machetanim. Her mother-in law is my machatainisteh. Her father-in-law is my machuten. When our children get married, we tend to overlook or dismiss the key importance of relationships with the extended family. You think of building good feelings and relations with your son-in-law or daughter-in-law, of course, but who gives much thought, initially, to forging new relationships with their parents, sister and sister’s family? But you come to realize that just as it “takes a village” to raise a child, it takes thoughtful, caring machetanim, committed to balance, fairness, and love to cultivate and enrich a nuclear family. When everything works right, the machetanim, brought together accidentally by their children’s decision to marry, become dear friends and cherished partners in supporting and mentoring the new young family. The whole family group of blood and non-blood relations become mishpoocha— family in the truest sense of the word. Who knew the sixties could be mined for such a rich new vein of family?
Leave a Reply