I grew up using the title aunt for my parents’ and grandparents’ siblings. In fact, I remember one time my uncle called and I thought I was too old to use the title so I ditched the title and only used his name when I told my mom who was on the line. Of course, he heard me so when mom answered the phone he asked her why we were on a first name basis. She then asked me about it and it took years for me to attempt to drop the title again.
When my nieces and nephew were born I originally thought I would ditch the title and be the hip aunt. They could call me whatever they wanted because we would be friends and none of this old-fashioned formal stuff. This lasted until my nieces started calling some friends of their family aunt and uncle. Then my thinking changed. “How dare they use that title for these Johnny-come-latelys.” After all, where was this ‘aunt’ and ‘uncle’ when these kids were born? Oh, that’s right. They weren’t in the picture yet.
In short, I may have become a tad jealous. Since that time I have valued the title aunt. For me, it is a term of respect and endearment. It is an title of honor for one slightly above friend in the hierarchy of relationships.
But, I think, it has become old-fashioned and outdated. We are in a time when titles are seen as perhaps a bit pompous and traditional. Perhaps too formal when we want everything including our relationships to be casual and friendly.
I have always felt like an old soul on this earth so maybe I am just not changing with the times.
Here’s my question for you: do you use the term aunt and uncle? Do you use them as a formality or with respect?