One of my younger sisters is getting married... and had her engagement party this weekend. It was nice... she used her fiancee's neighbor's back yard as the venue (which is GORGEOUS... pool, outdoor patio... built in grill, etc).
I learned a few things at the party... First, apparently I have a cousin I didn't know about. I knew about one (though I hadn't seen her since she was in a cradle)... the other one was a complete surprise to me. Apparently my mom's brother managed to have a son (in addition to the daughter I knew about) 14 years ago. Also, apparently my uncle is in the middle of a divorce, is out of work, and is staying with my mom (with the kids). There are some other things... but it all basically points to the fact that we have a very disconnected family. To be honest, with the exception of my mom and my sisters, I don't really keep in contact with anyone else... and for the most part, neither do they.
The other thing I learned is that my sister (the one that's engaged) has, in the last year or two, developed into an incredible person. Most of us in the family would quickly say that two years ago, she was an absolute bitch. Demanding, argumentative, unchanging, thinking the world owed her something (and being part of this world, you owed her something too... pretty much whatever she asked for). However, in talking to her on the phone and in person here and there (she currently lives in Oklahoma), I see things that make me very proud of her... like, accepting life somewhat for what it is (or what she can make of it), aspirations... contentment... happiness... a commitment to doing what it takes to get what she wants (as opposed to thinking she should get what she wants without having to do what it takes). Her mood and mentality have leveled out a lot, and she's honestly enjoyable to be around. She has a self-assuredness that is almost enviable, self-respect, and while not being disconnected, a healthy abstraction between how she feels and how other people feel... that is, she doesn't need other people to be happy with her to be happy with herself, though she does sincerely care that other people are happy.
All in all, I'd say she's moved up the scale quite a bit. My other sister is also moving rapidly up the maturity charts, though she's been doing very well for quite a while. The flip of this is, I think I'm no longer the emotional maturity leader in my family, which I'm TOTALLY OKAY with... but I think collectively, we've all finally grown up... we're all adults, dealing with life. It's honestly a terrific feeling... like the family somehow coming together again in some strange way.