My father is the second of 9 kids. They all grew up in Trinidad & Tobago, but half of them went to Vancouver, Canada for university, eventually marrying, settling there and having many kids. It’s for this reason that I spent many summers of my childhood in Canada, when my dad would take my mom, sister and I up to visit my aunts, uncles and all of my many cousins. It was wonderful.
I only have one sister, who has two kids, and my husband has 4 nieces and nephews, so our daughter Alex does have nearly the myriad of cousins that I do. Still, I do find it heartening that she really loves all of them, and when they get together, it really is like time hasn’t passed since the last time they saw each other.
My daughter doesn’t see her cousins as often as I’d like — all of our family lives in different states or countries — but my husband and I are also very lucky to have close friends here in Texas who have children, Alex’s age, and who she also loves dearly, and who we’ve spent holidays and vacations with, as well. In fact, several times she asks us if these families are related to us, because she realizes that the closeness we feel for them is very real, and often indistinguishable from family.
This week, we’re going to be spending some of spring break with some of those friends. And so these days I’ve been realizing that the older I become, the more I realize that the saying “you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family” isn’t exactly true — you can pick your family, as well.
And thank heavens for that.
(Are you close to your cousins? Do you have friends who you’ve grown up with who feel like cousins? And what about your kids — do they have cousins they’re not related to, as well?)