Upping the Auntie
Why keep family titles simple when you can have a little fun?
At our shared family cottage, we had three generations together this past weekend: my nieces and nephew, my brother, my cousins, two aunts and two uncles, my parents, my DH and I, and my daughter (plus a half a pack of dogs).
English has a sad lack of words to describe specific family relationships: We use the same name for sister-of-father, sister-of-mother, and wife-of-uncle. Everyone’s an Aunt. To further complicate matters, I come from a long tradition of bestowing honorary titles of “aunt” and “uncle” to friends and esteemed cousins. This weekend, we took hold of the situation, and upped the Auntie, so to speak.
My Auntie Fran told me that friends of hers at work recently had twins, and that she had been given the title of “Grantie Fran.” Well. I immediately adopted that as the new name for my daughter to call her—it was the perfect mix of Grand (signalling not only her quality, but an extra generation) and Auntie. Plus, it allowed the fantastic male equivalent: Gruncle.
Of course, that left us to figure out an equally sassy name for the cousins of my generation. We’re a close family but a big family, and it seemed we needed a way for kids to distinguish cousins of their own from cousins of their parents (I’m not willing to use the cold-sounding but technically correct kinship description “Cousin-once-removed Dan”).
Having a special name might help clarify how all the branches of the family are mapped out, but also it would signify where the relationship really feels more, well, avuncular. “Cousin Dan” just doesn’t hold enough weight—you can’t tell whether said cousin is aged two or 45.
So, we toyed with “Cousin-uncle Dan” and “Cousin-auntie Katie,” but that sounded both cumbersome and potentially hill-billy-ish. So after a few variations (like Fantie and Funcle—”because they put the funk into uncle”), we settled on Kuzuncle and Kuzauntie.
Whether these monikers will stick, only time will tell, but we had a laugh coming up with them.
Do any of you have creative solutions to this very serious family matter?