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An Open Letter To My Extended Family

To My Extended Family:


As the Holiday season approaches, I find myself thinking about you and how I can’t wait to celebrate the fact that we’ve been blessed with each other as family. I am so thankful for you all (or y’all, as the Arkansas part of the family would say), and I can’t imagine a better time to tell you how much I appreciate y’all (who am I kidding, I say it, too).

To my Grandparents,

Even though I only have grandmas left on this Earth, I would literally be nowhere without any of you. I might not know all your stories, but I know they all led to this moment right here and now. It has been a joy to hear the stories I have because I knew it took a lot of sacrifice to build the families I’ve ended up with.

Aside from distant things that I might never know much about, I am thoroughly thankful for the story-time on laps, the blown up newspaper bags that we would give weird warts to with our fingers and the amount of unexpected laughs you gave me and my sister and cousins. Never forget the wonderful impact you’ve had on your families. It’s greater than you know.

To my Aunts and Uncles,

What a blessing it is that my parents were both born into big families with five siblings each, so I get all the more love to go around. Thank you for always being genuinely interested in my life, even if you ask the most detested question of what I’ll be doing after I graduate (I’m bracing myself hard for this one this Thanksgiving and Christmas). But I know it only shows that you care.

Thank you for always being such fabulous hosts when my parents and sister and I came to visit or when my parents weren’t around, and my sister and I and my cousins needed to be watched. You always have the best food, and we’re so spoiled by you. Plus many of you cheer on the Hawkeyes because you care about me (and because you know how to pick the right team), and that is majorly sweet.

To my Cousins,

On my dad’s side, even though I only see you up to two times a year, I am so thankful for our friendship. We have so many inside jokes that I could never imagine explaining to anyone outside of the RigNetz family. I am thankful for the many meals we’ve shared together because eating is the thing we’re best at, apart from games. The many times we’ve been exiled to the porch with our cottage cheese and mashed potatoes or found mint ice cream treats in the basement have been etched into my brain as some of the best food-based memories. Our games of SpongeBob Uno, Bible Apples to Apples and Tapple are just about some of the most fun I could ever hope for. I hold on to hope that one of us will marry a Kyle and keep the tradition that every wedding has a Kyle. But Ramsey, of course, has to marry Cooper Darr.

Our times together are something I look forward to every Fourth of July and Thanksgiving, but I am thankful that no matter where we are (California, Arkansas, Illinois, Tennessee or even Canada!) there is always someone in my corner. I can’t wait to all live in the same place, so we can start our own society with all the trades we have to offer, although we still need to choose one of us to start Netzel’s Pretzels.  

On my mom’s side, thank you for more shared meals, my favorite being rainbow bread on Easter. I’ve always loved our movie nights on Christmas and Easter, even when we almost never finish the movie because we start too late. That is, except for the fortunate times when we were younger and all stayed at Auntie Kim’s apartment to watch “Polly” or “The Little Rascals” while feeding carrots to Critter the prairie dog.

Christmas is really the most wonderful time of the year when we talk about all the presents we got in the morning and just get more goodies from our stockings on the wooden rod and open the poppers. We’ve also had so many good game nights, filled with such laughter.

I also have to give a shoutout to my second cousins for being such a major part of my childhood. I don’t know that I’ll ever forget the number of times we played with Bratz dolls (sorry, I still definitely have a bunch of your stuff under my bed at home) because if I’m being truthful it’s one of the outlets I used for my storytelling bug. Our dress-up times were iconic, and of course snack time off of the Ikea flower plates are never to be forgotten. The times when you’d leave were the hardest, but the squishy hugs and piling on top of each other on the ottoman made up for it.

I can’t believe I’ve been blessed with such a massive family. I truly don’t know where I’d be without y’all.

Lots and lots and lots of love,


Paige Netzel is a senior at the University of Iowa, studying English and Creative Writing with a Cinema minor. Coffee, creating playlists, and gratitude are essential to keeping her going. Check her out on Twitter for some hecka funny tweets or on Spotify for those dope playlists.
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