Today I’m thankful for: My Big Family.

I’m one of seven children, and it’s fantastic. Sure, we didn’t get to do a lot of super fun stuff growing up because my mom wasn’t a millionaire, but that’s ok. Because my mom raised all seven of us without losing her mind, I think she is one of the strongest people I’ll ever meet.

Also, because I was raised in a big family, as soon as I was old enough to work for money, I did. When I was 13, my mom told me that she couldn’t afford new shoes for me for the first day of school. I was devastated for about 2 minutes and then realized I had to get the money for shoes myself. So I worked. I babysat, and sold candy at school. I still have that spirit and drive today, kinda like, “In order to get this, you must do that.” Sounds simple, but people don’t do it.

Also, growing up in a large family, it’s tough to have a “woe is me” attitude. Aw, you fell and hurt your knee? Who cares, there are six other people in the house who need tending to. Your little brother hasn’t been seen in hours and your sister’s bike was stolen from the park (true story). If you have a problem, you take care of it yourself, because Mom has enough to deal with. You don’t waste a lot of time feeling sorry for yourself.

You also learn to share. You HAVE to share. If you don’t, whatever you won’t share will get taken from you. Not only do you learn to share, but you learn to bring enough for others and to think about the people around you. In a big family, you learn very quickly that the world doesn’t revolve around you. Nothing is about you. I wish everyone learned this lesson out of the womb.

The best part about being in a big family is that there are always people around. You are truly never alone. Everytime we visit a place, whether it’s my mom’s house, or the park or Red Lobster, it’s always a party. We are automatically enough people to be considered a party and my nieces and nephews believe that everytime we visit my mom’s house, it’s somebody’s birthday because it feels like a party. I’m serious.

If something happens, like I get a new job or someone is having a baby or is getting married–there are already about 10 people who require this information, and you must call, text or email them. If you need help with something, like moving, cooking, job hunting, painting, car trouble, etc., there are about 10 people you can call also.

My older brother Islam (#1)

Ashte (#5)

Umer (#6)

Me and my three sisters

My new brother’s-in-law, Darrell and Phil

Oh, and don’t let me forget to mention that my brothers and sisters made more people to love!

Even more than this, my mom is one of 12 children. Because of this, I have more cousins than I can count. Here they are with my granddad, who turned 90 this year.

Also, as a result of this, Thanksgiving is an event of grand proportions. I love it and look forward to it every year.

Birthday parties are always a big deal too. Nothing is done small in a big family.

Ask only-children how fun it was to play hide-and-seek when they were growing up. Or if they ever had trouble finding someone to play with. Or if they ever stayed up late making dumb scary noises in the bedroom with their siblings. Please! I wouldn’t trade my big family for anything in the world.

What are you thankful for?