I am blessed with three awesome first cousins, but I am also very lucky to have several second cousins that I am just as close with. Whether they are older, younger or the same age as me, they have all given me so many reasons to be thankful.
1. They’re the only ones who can tease me.
My cousins, two in particular, have toughened me up over the years. They often work together to make fun of me, most recently by trying to set me up with people behind my back. They enjoy pulling pranks on my gullible self, but they are never cruel. If anyone else puts me down, though, they are quick to protect me. Deep down, past all the jokes and tricks, they don’t want to see me get hurt.
2. I have people who aren’t afraid to call me out.
They are more than willing to let me know when I say something ridiculous or do something stupid. As I said before, they don’t let me get away with much. I can count on them to give me the truth, no matter if it’s easy to hear or not.
3. I’m stuck with them.
Family is forever, for better or worse. We all have the families we do for a reason. Even though my cousins push my buttons sometimes, as I’m sure I annoy them, I am so thankful that I have each and every one of them in my life.
Alex, I’m sorry that my sister and I dressed you up in pink clothes when you were little. I hope you’ve gotten your revenge through the years.
4. They are always willing to do something with me, no matter how insignificant.
My little cousins enjoy something as simple as going to get ice cream with me, and my older cousins are content with singing along in the car, or sitting in silence, on the way to whatever we have planned. I always have someone who is there for me when I want to do something. We connect through the simplest things; we always have fun together.
5. They show me unconditional love.
No matter how disappointed or frustrated I feel, their love for me does not change. Sure, I know that my family loves me through the highs and the lows. But my cousins, people who easily relate to what I’m going through, understand me and don’t judge. They have been there. We truly care about each other. Simple requests such as “Text me when you get home” or “Let me know if you need anything” remind me that they are always there for me, no matter what.
6. They helped me survive high school.
The two pranksters I mentioned earlier graduated high school with me. I am forever grateful to them for making my high school experience so much fun. Because of them, I belonged to a tight-knit group of friends who have made countless memories and continue to stay close throughout college. My life would be much different if I hadn’t gone through high school with Ben and Tyler.
7. I learned the importance of being a positive role model at a young age.
I became the proudest 9-year-old when my twin cousins were born. From the beginning, I have wanted to help raise them to become good people. Looking at them now, nine years old themselves, I feel so grateful to have been part of their childhood. Watching them grow up into kind, happy, thoughtful kids is one of the most amazing experiences I have had.
8. They have become my honorary siblings.
While I am so lucky to have a wonderful sister, I have always wanted a brother. Because of all the cousins I have grown close with over the years, I have gained several older and younger brothers and sisters that I can continue to grow with. Some of them are sources of comfort and reassurance. Some of them keep me young at heart. Others provide me with sources of entertainment with our inside jokes and crazy memories. I can go to any one of them with concerns or joys with the confidence that they will help me work through my problems or celebrate with me.
9. They have taught me the basics of lake life.
I have been going to our family’s lake house since I was two months old. Spending summers at the lake with my older cousins allowed me to quickly learn the ropes of waverunning, boating and waterskiing. I look forward to our family vacation every year because we get to reconnect at our favorite place in the world, doing what we all love. Those weeks away from our everyday lives hold so much quality family time and special memories.
10. Family celebrations are never lame.
Even though I am almost in my twenties, I have no desire to talk with my older relatives about their jobs, investments and other boring parts of life that don’t yet capture my interest. Whether I’m playing outside with my younger cousins or looking for ways to liven up the party with my older cousins, I enjoy family get-togethers because of the company I keep. I hope to never grow up so much that I forget to enjoy the fun in life, and my cousins help remind me of that no matter where we are.