This past weekend we celebrated Easter. Multiple times.
On Good Friday, as was tradition, we gathered with my mom's family. My mom's family still all gets together for Easter, Thanksgiving and of course Christmas. There is my grandma, her 4 kids and their partners, and her 11 grandkids, their partners and her now 4 great grandchildren. Now, not everyone is there all the time, especially with my youngest cousin living in Alberta and the rest of them juggling our dinner with their partners' family dinners, but the majority of the family is always together for holiday dinners and has been...well...forever.
Saturday we had dinner with Jeff's family, which consists of his parents, his 90 year old grandfather, his 2 siblings and their partners and the 7 grandkids ranging in age from 5-10. We were also joined by one of Jeff's uncles this year, and there were 4 dogs in the house too.
Sunday my brother and I and our spouses and 3 kids and 2 dogs had dinner with our dad and his wife.
Thankfully, all 3 of these family homes we visited are within 10 minutes of eachother, about an hour from where we live.
What I loved the most this weekend, was all of the cousin time. I grew up in a suffcatingly small yet beautifully safe small town, with my brother and 6 of our 9 cousins. We all went to school together and we all spent time together almost every single day of our lives when we were little. We were family and we were childhood friends. I have always been so grateful for a childhood like that because it really cemented the idea to me that family is everything. That you look out for eachother while you mercilessly tease eachother. And now that we are all adults (the oldest are 32 and the youngest is 19) we are adult friends too. When we all get together we talk, and laugh and tease and roll our eyes at our parents. The three married ones all have children now and share yet another bond with eachother now. When I was married almost 10 years ago, 4 of my 5 female cousins on this side of my family and 2 from my dad's side all played roles in the wedding. Now we share recipes, we make eachother drinks, ask for and give advice to eachother and we celebrate eachother's successes like real friends do. And we have been there for eachother in some pretty crappy times like no one else really could be. Cause we understood. Cause when you didn't want anyone to know, you couldn't help that your cousins knew. So you depended and leaned on them, and vice versa. There is a lot that goes unspoken but is understood. I love my cousins. They are so much fun to hang out with and I always look forward to a wedding in this family as we all always have a great time together. Our parents worked hard to ensure we were a part of eachother's lives when we were growing up, and oh, has it ever paid off. The core group of 11 has almost doubled, and I am grateful for every single one of my cousins.
My own kids are growing up in a different childhood than I did. None of their first cousins live here or go to school with them. They don't see eachother as often and they are all leading much busier, scheduled lives than we ever did as kids. But when they do get together, they too are the best of friends. My kids love their cousins and when they are all together they remind me of times spent with mine as a child. This weekend they adventured around the farm together, climbed the haymows together, walked the dogs together, bunked together overnight, whispered, giggled and played, played and played together. It's so nice to put all the busy-ness on hold and just "be" together. Just be little. Just be kids. Just be silly and loud and fun and fearless. Making memories together that hopefully they will look back on fondly throughout their lives, as I do with mine. As I watched them in the haybales I remembered playing in the bales with my cousins on my dad's side countless times. As I thought of the 4 of them all bunked together in one room overnight I fondly remember doing them same thing so many times with my cousins. And as I watch 2 of the girls in particular relish the mothering role they take with Jack, and Jack willingly following along so happy to be included, I remember the many times I babysat my youngest cousin, whose birth I was so excited about, who was a flowergirl in my wedding...who is now 19 years old already.
But while Jack is the baby in Jeff's family, he isn't in mine. My kids have my brother's 5 month old son Beckett to love on, when they can get him away from me long enough to do so. So far there are just the 3 of them to get into trouble together, but...well...sometimes less is more. I can't imagine 7 or 11 little Melissa and Mikes running around and suspect the 3 we have so far will be handfuls enough for awhile ;) Beckett is just on the cusp of belly laughs, they are right around the corner, and I can't wait to hear the 3 of them belly laugh together.
This weekend was so great. It really was. Lots of fun, family and friends. I am grateful for all of it, but I close thinking of how lucky I am to have neices and nephews who are such good kids and cousins to my own kids, and such great cousins of my own who started out as great kids themselves. All of these people are a very important part of my life and I just want them to know that.
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