Frances Spiro Family Circle

The giggles. The splashes. The flips off the diving board. The hum of constant conversation, highlighted by bursts of laughter. The grill lit, the sangria flowing. The backyard is bursting with joy and love.

The house is a-buzz with activity. The ovens are on. Salads are being tossed and sides being dished out. People are in and out as the grill continues to produce hamburgers and hot dogs. Food is everywhere and everyone is filling their plates.

Four Generations. Four. All descendants of Frances Spiro, my maternal great-grandmother. This is my absolute second favorite day of the year (the first being Thanksgiving!). I get the honor of hosting the Frances Spiro Family Circle annual picnic at my home. I have hosted the picnic since 2006, after I moved to this playground of a home! For many years, the family circle picnic was held at a park, with everyone bringing a dish, grills on and baseball games were always on the agenda. All ages played softball and we had a blast.

I have never been good at explaining the first cousin-once removed thing so I am going to explain the family in my terms, with my memories. My great-grandmother had 5 children, at least 5 who I knew. My grandmother, Stella, being one of them. They all immigrated to the United States and settled in the Bronx, some in the same building or within blocks of each other. They built lives close to each other. All of their children, 10 of them between them, were at times closer than siblings, sharing beds and going to baseball games together. My mother and her first cousins all stayed close, and decided to create the family circle so that as anyone moved away from the Bronx they would stay close as a family.

Growing up, I would see my cousins more than many saw first cousins. I visited my grandmother in the Catskills in the summer with cousins; I played with cousins at the annual Hanukah Party or the entire family Passover Seder. As we have had children, they attended the annual picnics at the park as well as Hanukkah parties at restaurants.

Now our kids are having kids and we have a fourth generation descendent. There is a uniqueness about our family that is truly beautiful. Through the Family Circle, the cousins vowed to stay close and raised us in a way that we love each other always. We know each other and cheer each other on; we really root for each other. There’s a feeling about being in each other’s lives, growing up together, coming from the bloodline of strength, resiliency and love that is magical. Many of us played as children, hung out as young adults and now we watch the next two generations doing the same.

All of the kids in the pool share a dwindling per centage of the same DNA yet they are enjoying each other and know that they are related and cousins. They do not think about the amount of shared genes just that they are shared. They talk and laugh and plash and dive as if they have always swam together. The warmth of this moment was only trumped by seeing two of the original cousins sitting together and catching up. They seemed to be so very happy to be together.

The gratitude of this moment and of this event washed over me yesterday as I watched the magic unfold. I am forever blessed to be a part of the Frances Spiro Family Circle.

Thank you Mommy.


  1. Melissa on July 15, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    What a beautiful tradition of love!

  2. saliacullo on July 16, 2018 at 7:11 pm

    Such a wonderful description of a wonderful family on one very wonderful day.

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