Dear Cousins,

You are all incredibly special. Not only are you family through and through, but you were also the first people I could ever confide in. My first sleepovers were with you guys, the first time I got into trouble was because of some elaborate scheme we came up with together. From making up games when we were younger to vacations, to relying on each other for strength and support when times are tough, we've done it together. There aren't many people that you can share family secrets with and also count on as best friends, and I can do both with you.

Lauren Oaster

To my older cousins, I've always looked up to you, since I became aware of the world around me at such a young age. Thank you for being constant role models, and for always being there for me, no matter what. Without you to gossip about family, race to tattle on, and talk about boys with, I don't know where I would be. I can tell you in full confidence that family parties would've been very nearly unbearable if you weren't there with me, hiding upstairs or in the basement until dinner was ready.

I considered Temple and Bloomsburg for school because you went there. I joined theater at my high school because I saw you play lead roles in ballets and musicals. I started dressing nicer as I got older because I watched you develop a sense of fashion that I wanted to emulate. I became who I am partially because of you guys, my older cousins, and your influence and friendship are things I will carry with me my whole life.

To my younger cousins, I will always be here for you. I love you fiercely, and I want you to look up to me like I look up to our older cousins. We have something in common that you can't find anywhere else but between cousins. We are friends, but we are more than that because we share the same family, lineage, and even some of the same talents and character traits. Not only do we know each other better than most, but we have similar interests, and we even look like each other. We can be like siblings, but we are apart enough to value our time together and avoid the typical sibling rivalry.

And to the babies, you are so so lucky to be growing up in a family that is cultivated by love and founded on bondage. As you mature you will always always have so many people who care about you. Your big cousins will have your back through thick and thin, and it is impossible to put into words how much you will love being a part of this.

Together we have learned to be thankful for the love and support we get every day, not just from each other, but from aunts, uncles, and grandparents too. We will be forever grateful to Mom-mom and Pop-pop for raising our parents they way they did because it has allowed us to be as tight-knit as we are. You didn't choose to be my cousins, but you chose to love me and protect me at all costs. I would do the same for any of you in a heartbeat, and I cannot stress enough how appreciative I am that I have you all in my life.

We are all lucky to be as inseparable as we are, in both location and relationship. I don't know that I've ever met a family with the dynamic of closeness that ours has. We know everything about each other, we have endless inside jokes and stories, and we're constantly spending time together. Birthday parties, summer barbecues, Christmas parties at Mom-mom and Pop-pop's: you name it, we've done it. We are all cousins by chance, but we are friends by choice, and I would never trade what we have for the world.

There is nothing on this earth quite like the bond that cousins share.

With Love,

Your Cousin