We moved to Florida in 1982. Prior to that we lived in New York.
In New York, we had all of our relatives. My Grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, great cousins. We'd get together every so often. I always remember the food was elaborate and enormous. You never left the grandparents house hungry.
My cousins lived up the street from my Grandparents, in Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn. It was kind of a tough neighborhood. There was a member of the mafia living on my grandparents block. There was a ton of energy in the city, sirens going off at all hours of the day, that was just part of life.
My other grandparents lived in Flatbush section of Brooklyn. They would start cooking breakfast around 6am, for the first shift, then the next shift would get there and eat, and sit around and talk until they cleared the table and started preparing lunch. Food around the clock. Then we'd go to a restaurant for dinner with the rest of the family.
My Aunt Minna had a Tiffany business on Madison Avenue (you can read about here here: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B04E1DC153AF934A2575BC0A96E9C8B63&smid=tw-share). She was my Grandmother's sister. Her husband Uncle Sidney was a reporting for Parade magazine, he used to tell us the most amazing stories. He'd send us letters where he'd cut out each of the letters from a newspaper or magazine, it was quite amazing. He and his brother interviewed Marilyn Monroe before she got famous http://www.immortalmarilyn.com/MarilynPhotographerBenRoss.html . He went back to college in his 80's and was always flying around the world obtaining books on the Holocaust, he later donated the entire collection to Forham University. They named the library after the both of them: http://www.library.fordham.edu/archives/holocaust.html.
My Grandmother's brother owned a business and sold to the Chinese, he was well off and has an entire set of relatives on his side as well.
My other Grandmother had a brother in Connecticut, he was a chemist, very well off, and he had a set of relatives on his side.
We had an Aunt and Uncle in Boston, and our 3 cousins. Uncle Aaron worked for the World Health Organization. I visited them on several occasions, he turned me on to Noam Chomsky. He had some of his colleagues over for a party, all of them had PhDs and were super smart, I remember talking to all of them and couldn't believe the intelligence quota at his house. They had Thanksgiving in Boston every year for several decades.
Well, we moved to Florida in 1982 and all that interaction soon stopped. We didn't get to see our relatives as often and over the years, it became more difficult to have that sense of family. However, I did grow up with a deeply ingrained sense of culture and big family before the move. I found Florida to be a barren wasteland of intellect, culture and lack of 4 seasons to be abominable. Except I never left and have lived here from 1982 to present, minus 4 years in Atlanta. I miss the family get together with everyone eating and talking and shouting to get their voice heard.
Those were the days.