I’m not that close to my family. My dad, of course, and my brother and sister-in-law. But not my grandparents on either side or my aunts and uncles and myriad cousins. We’ve just never lived near them, so I don’t have the type of relationship that I might have if I grew up spending days and weekends with them as many of them did with each other, especially on my dad’s side.

Plus, I am the child of a southern father and a northern mother. To those of you from the West Coast, this will not seem odd, perhaps, but here, especially in the South, this produces a culturally undefined person. For example, I love southern food, especially sweet tea and biscuits, but I also love good wine and cheeses other than American. I am a person who prefers a slow-pace of life, but I’m a northerner in the pace I usually live. I’m a true mish-mash of the stereotypes of North (from Mom) and South (from Dad), and this identity muddle combined with the distance I’ve lived away means that I don’t blend with either set of family particularly easily.

Yet, in this my 36th year, I am finding that these differences – real though they are – are easily put aside when you cling to the things that we all share. Stories, in particular.

Last night, my cousin’s in-laws (and my granny’s neighbors – yep, it’s the South) stopped by and shared stories of friends they had. Dad talked about his childhood a bit. Granny shared wisdom on raising children, and I even chimed in with stories about Brother and I. It was a lovely visit, made even more lovely by Granny’s yellow cake with chocolate fudge frosting.

Later, after everyone else was asleep, I jumped online to do some family research into Granny’s side, trying to trace her Suttons back as far as I could. As my eyes grew heavy and I remembered we have church this morning, I found a great story in itself – a story about the first female colonist executed in the newly established Massachusetts colony. Her name was Alice, and she was hung for stabbing and killing her four year old daughter. Horrible, gruesome, and tragic. Yet, I am quite eager to tell Granny this story.

Today, I have something beyond my odd identity and my “otherness” to share with my family. I have a new story to add to the lore, a story that will – hopefully – bring us a little more together. That feels pretty great.