We were sitting around the kitchen table at Dave and Sally’s house in San Antonio talking, as families do, about other members of the family, who was where, who was doing what, when we became aware that young Jacob, age 5, was becoming extremely agitated. When asked what the problem was we found that he was frustrated about hearing of aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. that he didn’t know and couldn’t sort out who was who. So while his mother and grandmother made soothing mother and grandmother noises I took pen to paper and the result was:
Relatives, relatives, they come by the score
Every time you turn around, there’s twenty more.
Aunts and uncles, grandparents and cousins
Nephews and nieces, they come by the dozens.
Big ones and little ones, it gets so confusin’
Trying to keep them straight, it’s not even amusin’.
So pay attention Jake and I’ll tell you what I’ll do.
Read this little poem. I’ll make it easy for you.
You have no trouble at all knowing your sister and brother,
And no problem, of course, with your father and mother.
It’s when you get out of the house that things get hard.
There are enough relatives out there to fill up your yard.
Grandmas and grandpas are the easiest to figure.
There are only four of them – the number can’t get bigger.
Your mom and dads, mom and dad, are your grand parents you see.
Two grandmas, two grandpas, that’s all there can be.
Your grand parents mom and dad are your great-grandparents, lets
keep it straight,
No matter what else happens, there can be only eight.
It’s in the rest of the family where things get tough.
No one had the sense to say enough is enough.
You have brothers and sisters, your mom and dad did too.
And all of their brothers and sisters are aunts and uncles to you.
To make the family bigger there is another rule.
The people your aunts and uncles marry are aunts and uncles too.
So, no matter how many brothers and sisters
your mom and dad had.
No matter where they live or if they are happy or sad.
No matter where they go or what they do.
Each and every one is an aunt or an uncle to you.
So onward and onward, onward we go.
The family tree gets bigger. It just grows and grows.
Your grandmas and grandpas had sisters and brothers.
If you don’t think that’s true just go ask your mother.
And every sister and brother that they ever had,
Was an aunt or an uncle to your mom and dad.
And that makes them, strange but its true,
Great aunts and great uncles to the likes of you.
Now nephews and nieces are just the reverse,
Of aunts and uncles in the previous verse.
The ones you call aunt and uncle call you niece or nephew.
And that’s the way it is, no matter what you do.
When your brother and sister get married – someday they might –
Then they will have kids, won’t that be a sight.
And all of those kids will be related to you.
You’ll call them nephews and nieces, that’s just what you’ll do.
I saved cousins for last because I don’t know where to start.
When you think about cousins it’s bad for the heart.
Cousins are the hardest part, I’ll tell you no lies.
It seems that there are more cousins than stars in the skies.
Some live close and some live far.
We never seem to know just who they all are.
When your aunts and uncles have kids they are called cousins.
As I said before there are dozens and dozens.
When cousins have kids they are cousins too.
It’s hard trying to figure out just who is who.
Grown-ups try to act wise about cousins, but they really
Sometimes they use strange words, but they’re just
putting on a show.
Words like “First cousin”, “Second cousin”, Cousin
Removed from where? Don’t ask, or it’s off to bed
you’ll be shooed.
Shirttail cousins, distant cousins, give my head a rest.
I know there are kissin’ cousins. They’re the ones we like the best.
I know cousins are all relatives and on my family tree.
A cousin is a cousin and that’s good enough for me.
So there you have it, Jake, from bottom to top,
Grandmas and grandpas, your mom and your pop.
Nephews and nieces, aunts and uncles too,
And enough cousins to fill up the San Antonio Zoo.
Relatives come in all sizes and might have different names.
They may live near or far and play different games.
But the thing to remember and keep in your heart,
Relatives are your family, even when you’re far apart.
Relatives are your family; it’s very, very true.
No matter where you go, they are all a part of you.