My family is big by any standards. My dad comes from a family of 12 and my mom comes from a family of 9. For the most part, each one of my aunts and uncles have 2-3 children and now my cousins and I continue on the legacy of what my grandparents started all of those years ago. This is nowhere close to all of us…if we were all in the same place at the same time, we’d need a much bigger photo!
Family…what an amazing and incredible blessing. Our very own modern day tribe. The very best friends I’ve had in my life, those I’ve grown up with, those I continue to grow old with, the ones from the beginning who will still be there in the end, they’re my family. My best memories are those made with my aunts, uncles and cousins. A bond made strong by shared laughs, countless sleepovers, hearty German meals together and the realization that there are other humans in this world that not only have shared many of my experiences, but also who are truly a part of who I am. Genetics are incredible and when I spend time with my cousins whom I don’t see nearly enough, I find myself feeling right at home. I know it’s more than the late night secrets shared 25 years ago that keep us close after all of this time. We are cut from the same cloth…how can we not be thankful for this gift of family?
I am in awe for the way we’re all connected in this experience of life. It makes me want to build the same thing for my children. How different my life would be if I didn’t have this safe place where I will always belong…family. I’ve made a good start, for my kids I mean. Although they spend most of their time arguing with one another at the moment (like most siblings do), they also love each other like crazy. And thankfully they also have cousins who are already their best friends. They keep secrets from us lame adults, they giggle over things we don’t understand, they spend endless hours playing games that they’ve designed and no one else gets….they know one another in a way someone outside of this circle will never understand. I couldn’t be happier or more grateful.
So here are the experiences I hope for for my children with their God-given best friends, their cousins:
- Late night whispers and giggles together after I’ve tucked them in and demanded they go to sleep RIGHT NOW!
- The building of forts, the telling of stories, the dreams of modeling or becoming the next Steph Curry, the desire to take on the world together in adventure after adventure
- Excited secrets of first loves…first kisses…and the tender understanding needed from a true friend after their first heartbreak
- The passing on of the advice that I, as Mom, am not ready to give…it was a cousin who told me Santa wasn’t real, it was a cousin who showed me how to shave my legs and even passed on all of the feminine necessities when I reached that magical age of womanhood
- Days and nights of too much fun shared with the people that care enough to let them know when they’re out of line. And the knowledge that when they’ve stepped over that line, they’ll always have a friend that sees them for who they truly are, not for the mistakes they’ve made
- Celebrations of graduations, weddings, children and all of the other amazing gifts in life
- The shared decision one day down the road 25 years from now, when it’s easy to drift apart, that their friendship is so worth the effort…and the discovery that things between them are just as easy and joyful as when they were five.
Have you thought about those special people in your life? The ones who have always been there? Give thanks for the way they’ve shaped you as a person, thanks for all that you’ve shared, thanks to have someone in this world that just gets you. Don’t forget to make that extra effort. Go the extra mile. There are some things that time and distance will not change; the bond of family is one of those unchangables. Let’s never take that for granted. I read somewhere the other day “Find Your Tribe, Love Them Hard.” Some of us are lucky enough not to have to look too far. My tribe has always been there and they always will be. I give thanks for that every day.