Big here means 2 parents, 6 daughters, 1 son, and 1 son-in-law. Because that's what I know. There are many sizes of families, both much larger and somewhat smaller, but this is mine.
We've developed a family language that no outsider fully understands. We speak English at home, with random exclamations, comments, and commands in Spanish, Mandarin, Korean, and Bahasa Malaysia. Nicknames abound. When we say Attack Chihuahua everyone knows who we're talking about.
We're able to come up with a good crowd for a game of hide-n-seek in the dark, baseball, or Outburst, without having to outsource.
Lots of siblings means a few more birthday parties and running out of food in the fridge and on the dinner table more often than usual. (Actually, I don't know. How often do you run out of food?)
There might not be enough chairs in front of the television for movie night, but if you drag a couple pillows out from the bedroom and scatter them on the floor, everyone can get comfortable. There aren't a lot of cars, or even a lot of dining room tables that can fit our whole family at once, but we can always make do with what we have available at the moment.
You're not really alone, almost never. I always shared a bedroom, sometimes a bed, with my sisters.
Once there's already so many, a few extra family members are easily, almost without effort, adopted. Mom calls Angel her "son", and considers people that are his age the same age as her children. You can count on finding extra people in my parents' home nearly every day. My own or my siblings' friends...toddlers or infants being cared for while their parents work...many others who simply consider our home a 2nd 'home' of their own.
In my family, by the time you're 16 you know how to care for an infant and get a dinner for ten on the table--while washing dishes and keeping up on laundry at the same time: a priceless skill. Probably the reason that I find being the mistress of my own home an easy job.
The 1st grader might think she's a teenager like the rest of her siblings and talks about her plans for college and asks for permission to go out for coffee with her friends.
We fight. Sometimes, siblings take sides against each other. In an ideal world, that wouldn't happen, but it does. You don't have 7 individuals with feisty personalities and strong opinions without a tiff every so often. Keeps things interesting. When everything's on the line, though, I know I have 6 allies who will be there for me through better and worse.
We have an in-family expert in nearly everything: mechanical engineer, Bible teacher, electrician, computer guy, singer, editor, baby-care expert, house-cleaner extraordinaire, nurse, baker, actress, photographer, cosmetologist, fashion-advice-giver, comedian, etc. You need it, we have it.
We always count to make sure no one is left behind when we go somewhere. Once Mom started driving away while I was putting away the grocery cart in the cart rack. It happens.
We have always had bunk beds and clothes that are shared and handed down from one to another. The idea of private ownership often gives way to a more communal concept of ownership; which can either be a good thing or a bad thing...
We're not the kind of big family with a custom-sized house and vehicles and large quanitites of furniture and oversized appliances. We're not nearly that numerous! My family lives in a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, 1000 sq. foot apartment that feels much larger now that only 6 people live there, but at one point all 9 of us lived in it. For a very short time, we had a 15 passenger van, and that was great because of the extra room for friends and luggage, but since they moved to Malaysia, my parents drive a minivan-ish type vehicle. For the last 10 years they've cooked dinners on a 2-burner camp stove--and believe me, you can do a lot with two burners!
Honestly, our big family doesn't feel big when you're in it. I don't look see
pictures of my family and think, "My goodness, that's an unusually large
number of children." I simply see my sisters and my brother, my
mom and dad. We're a bunch of people who are related both by blood and by love, not a statistic.
And to answer questions I've received over the years: yes, we each took an appropriate number of baths, and yes, I feel that we got the parental attention we needed to grow up to be useful members of society. Yes, we all belong to both parents (it's rather obvious if you look at our faces). No, I never felt like running away or killing myself--that seems like an excessively dramatic response to being the oldest of 7 kids. Do you have any questions you'd like to ask?