Ours are similar and SUPER different all at once. My family is big, and loud, and loving and crazy (good crazy). We write sci-fi stories over campfires, have generally nerd-y/science/fantasy sorts of discussions all the time. We discuss if we would like to colonize Mars, and the logistics of it. Or how to sucessfully carry out some insanly complex scheme ala Ocean’s 11. Oh or one recent one that was fun, time travel and bending space/time to make it happen. In depth, with scholarly backing.There is a fairly above average intelligence in all the people in my family, education isn’t if you go to college, but if you decide to stop at masters or get a Phd. But at the same time, everyone is laid back about life, jokes abound and while there is usually a target of the jokes, it is all good natured.
One big thing for me is when we do stuff, there is usually a musical score provided, mainly between my dad, sister and I. Breaking into musicals is not uncommon. We love being around with extended family, there are just a lot of us. While both my and DH’s family are evangelical, even though I have two Baptist preacher grandpa’s, we are of a much more “liberal” breed, at least for Baptists. We dance, and most of my family is perfectly fine with their dinner wine or beer and the game. My sis and Brother-In-Law are BOTH working on being ordianed as preachers in the AG church. The men in my family are all the “head of households” and are adored and respected by their wives but mostly the women are the bread-winners and there is an independant, stubborn streak through the women too. And all the men are domestic, my dad and one uncle are stay at home husbands/dad, the other men are always helping with household duties since both of the couple work full time. Oh and in my family, there is one divorced/not happily in an extended relationship/marriage couple.
A major difference for DH’s family is while they are still Baptists, they are most certainly the hard-line, ultra conservative kind. My sister (a woman!!!?!) being ordianed? In a *gasp* CHARISMATIC denomination?!?! HELL FIRE!!!!! No. Seriously. My Father-In-Law is the most ridiculously chauvanistic conservative I know. Which really confuses me because Mother-In-Law is not a kept woman at all, she is highly intelligent, educated and works outside the home and was never a Stay-At-Home Mom or anything. His grandpa and brother are the same way, women are housewives in addtion to full time work, child raising and everything else. Men shouldn’t and don’t lift a finger to help with “women’s work”. I, do not share this view and it has been a huge struggle to re-teach Darling Husband that their is no “women’s work” in our house. All not helped by the fact that SIL is part of a family as extremely conservative as Father-In-Law approves and he frequently lets us know it. Don’t even get me started on what he said about another couple (one of MIL’s cousins) who happened to be two women, at a party for MIL’s parents. I kindly (well, ish) had to remind Mother-In-Law to tell Father-In-Law that my aunt and her life partner (whom I love dearly) were going to be at the wedding and I would pick them over him if he chose to make comments.
Also, there are waaaayyy less of them. I grew up with 10 cousins, Darling Husband has none. We only EVER see his mom/dad, BIL/SIL and his maternal grandparents. His aunt and uncle live far away, they are super nice, and much less crazy (bad crazy) than his other direct family. He is much more like his aunt, artistic and a free spirt, than his parents who are both insane type A dominate personalities. And even though they are all fairly well educated, when we get together with them, if his aunt isn’t there, the conversation is dull. Very very very dull. His dad and Brother-In-Law and almost clones and have this awful bitting sarcasm where Darling Husband can do no right because he has a very different personality than them. It is awful really, when his dad laughs, someone is wiping up the blood from his verbal lashing that he passes as “jokes”.
And even though both Brother-In-Law and SIL and his grandma were and are music people, no one sings. Which to me, is like not breathing. I mean, when someone starts talking about traditions, how can one NOT break into Fiddler on the Roof??? Or when nothing is going on and everyone is bored, why SHOULDN’T one start singing “CABIN FEVER!” from Muppet Treasure Island? It should be a crime! Also, no nerds. I am the nerdy one and they all just kind of look at me oddly when I start talking about last thanksgiving when my family spent three hours after dinner debating who would best be cast in the Muppet version of Lord of the Rings or anything like that, which is common place at my house.
His family also has a lot more dysfunction than mine. While still more functional than most, FIL’s family is a mess; a brother that has been gone for 28 years, a paternal grandpa with a wife almost his son’s age and an uncle the age of Dh’s older brother (but they have never met him). Lots of messy extended families, something I just wasn’t used to.
Oh, and they don’t cook. Well, not the way my family does. In my family, getting together usually meant a seriously amazing home cooked meal. Thanksgiving and Christmas are spread with every kind of wonderful thing you can imagine, all made from scratch with all 20+ people in the kitchen “helping”. Cooking for holidays was an event, not just a meal. Usually, we go out if DH’s family is together. Thanksgiving last year (first one without my family and with his) made me cry because the only thing I recognized on the table was turkey, and it came pre-cooked and frozen. The pie, frozen. The rolls, store bought. The green bean cassarole (bleck) from a can. Mashed potatoes from a box (Sidebar, I didn’t know mashed potatoes CAME in a box until high school… grossest thing ever). I brought home made (like I peeled those suckers and everything) candied sweet potatoes, my FAVORITE thing for holiday meals, and no one but me ate them. I went home after dinner and called my daddy and cried because I missed real food with people who would sing about green beans and the dinner table.
I really do like my in-laws, I know it could be way worse. But they are most certainly NOT my family, and I would be lying if I said that I don’t intend to live closer to my family.
Also, this is a novel and serious kudos if you read it. I got a bit ranty. My apologies.