The biggest thing I’m thankful for tonight is the blessing of cousins. My oldest cousin & her husband are up visiting with their new baby this weekend. We talked till 1 AM last night, barely pausing for breath between topics it seemed! Today we had Thanksgiving dinner at my aunt & uncle’s. It felt so RIGHT and familiar to be crowded around their long table with the cousins, laughing and talking. This is how it’s been for as long as I can remember.
Only this time, as we looked down the table, things were a bit different, my oldest cousin noted. All of us had an “other” present. Some couples married with kids, some newlyweds, some we’re-just-checking-this-out,-don’t-tease-us-too-much couples… Nobody fought over sitting side by side on the bench with “their” closest-in-age cousin. Sitting next to a girl is SO much better now, apparently!
All of us girls had contributed something to the meal. Instead of the kitchen being filled with just our moms, we were all in there too, putting the finishing touches on our food. Gone are the days of playing Dutch Blitz in the living room till our parents called us for the meal – now we work too!
Instead of our moms jumping up to tend to kids, it’s now us jumping for our own children! It was so much fun to see Elianna doting over her new little cousin – petting his head, lying down beside him on the floor to look at him, and opening his presents for him. She’s been dethroned and everyone sits around the living room watching HIM now, but she doesn’t care – she’s just as enthralled!
Years ago, as we’d gather to see our “African” cousins off at the airport, they’d hand over winter jackets to younger cousins, and we’d speculate about how OLD we’d all be when they came back for their next furlough. As we looked ahead at the teenage years, it seemed like 16 was SO far away. I mean, Joanna was already pretty much grown up at 12! Sixteen was hard to imagine! Now here we are, almost all of us in our 20’s, mostly grown and gone from our original homes, some of us with kids of our own. Rarely do we ALL get to see each other at the same time. With marriages and moving and Bible Schools on opposite ends of the country or across the ocean, and with one cousin sailing the ocean….it’s tough to get everyone together!
But that’s ok. We don’t ALL have to be together to have a good time. Even when there’s just some – we still have a great time. We miss the far-away cousins, as always, but they’ll be back, and then we’ll see them and maybe someone else will be off on some other adventure by then. We have wonderful memories of Christmases and camp-outs when everyone was there, and they will always be special and treasured. But right now, that’s rather impossible, so we’ll enjoy what we do have – part of our cousin group together, having a great time as always. When Ocean cousin comes back to visit next year we’ll see her and enjoy her. If by some crazy chance EVERYONE manages to be at the same place at the same time – well, Uncle Gerald’s going to need to build another “porch” and buy another looooong table to fit everyone!
Another thing was different today, and this one made my heart smile — all the inlaws, and maybe-will-become-inlaws around the table. They all fit in so well. Our cousin group is doubling, and it’s super-cool! It’s neat to see my husband hit it off with Joanna’s husband – they’re both easterners, so they have a lot in common! Every time I see another cousin’s husband, I smile as I see him becoming more and more relaxed with the family. Another cousin-in-law just seems like she’s always been there, already. It would be strange to NOT have her bustling around the kitchen!
I’m so thankful for my cousins, and this special bond we all have. We’ve shared so much of our lives together, even the far-away “African” cousins. Sleepovers, games, building Lego creations, emailing across the ocean (that was back in the day when writing an email was a BIG DEAL and it was pretty awesome that we could just go to our neighbor’s house and type in a letter and it would get to our cousins That Same Day and didn’t have to go in the mail for a month!) joint birthday parties, camp-outs, sharing dreams, having fun, learning things from the “older wiser” trio of cousins, dissecting life, figuring out growing up…. I love how that bond is still so strong. No matter that we haven’t seen my oldest cousin for over 2 years – we can still stay up till 1 am catching up, sharing, and learning from each other!
We are family — cousins — but we are also friends — the best of friends. These cousins of mine – I’ll never be able to even come close to fully explaining how precious they are to me and how blessed I am to have them in my life!