I see on Facebook that one of my cousins on my dad’s side is celebrating a birthday today. We only saw each other a handful of times when we were growing up on the east coast. Now she lives a couple of hours away but what I know about her is only what she reveals on social media.
Yet I still feel a connection as she was one of three cousins my age. My parents were the renegades who deliberately moved away from “family.” When they did, I think they missed the summer visits to Cape Cod and Cooperstown because they were special places but they didn’t really miss the complications of getting along with aging relations.
So I’ve had to learn for myself what “big family” means. By that, I mean family relations beyond mom and dad, brothers and sisters. Since my marriage and having kids, I am now a part of family that gets together regularly, celebrates the unique and special relationships between cousins and the lovely and unique quality of grandparent-grandchild relationships. I really wish I’d been able to have some of this for myself growing up but I’m glad it is there for my kids.
Sure, the relationships can be tricky as we age and become stuck in our thinking and sensitive about various issues. But family is the first way and last way we learn about community and how to really live among different people.
So Happy Birthday cousin, it’s been fun to see the toasts from our far-flung family on Facebook and I hope you have a banner year!