I’d like to say a few words in praise of the cousin. Cousins are family, and mostly appear at the best of times. Weddings, summer holidays, family gatherings are all made more interesting by the presence of these people of similar age who you feel you know even though you sometimes dont very well. You are intrigued by each other, the daughter of a mothers brother or the son of a fathers sister, or whatever. This must mean something. Kinship? Certainly you are predisposed to like one another. You suspect you have something in common. Blood is thicker than water, right?

My mother had no brothers or sisters, so her 21(!) cousins were extremely important to her, and she stayed in touch with all of them her entire life. As a result, my brother and I know a number of our second cousins, children of my mothers first cousins.  A few of them I am very close to and fond of. We see each other regularly and our children, third cousins(?), know and like one another. How long can this go on?

Cousins are spared the intense nature of siblings daily interface. Of course we love our sisters and brothers, but its not always easy. The power struggles, victories and defeats of childhood stay with us throughout our lives.

Cousins are more often blessed with straightforward, warm relationships. They are able to fill each other in on family history. They know classified stuff about your parents childhood from their parents who were eyewitnesses! And when you are together, all kinds of extended family folklore is nourished and enhanced.

As children, we cousins were thrown together when our parents met, and we devised and shared all kinds of games. How happy my brother and I were to have some other family members to play with, and what fun we all had.

This week, my children’s cousin, the daughter of their mothers sister, is staying with us. My children and she have known each other since they can first remember. It is a delight having her to stay and we shall all be a little sad when she has to go in a couple of days. She and my daughter have just discovered a spider in the toilet bowl. Now thats entertainment!

So heres to cousins everywhere. If you know and love each other half as much as I do mine, you are blessed indeed.

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