When I think about my first true friends, the ones that come to mind are not the girls that I met on the playground in kindergarten or my friend that I sat beside on the bus. The only people that come to mind are my cousins. I think the bond that cousins share is special, but it is a bond that is often overlooked or taken for granted. Cousins have been there since the beginning.

They were your first playmate. Whether it was at grandma's house after church or at each other's houses, they were always down for a play date or adventure. For me personally, I am close with all of my cousins. I remember playing Barbies, house, kitchen, and the list goes on with my older cousin, Paige. We spent endless nights in the basement of our grandparents' house in our own little world, followed by sleepovers and the smell of pancakes the next morning for breakfast. We have confided in one another with life issues, boys, God, and just about anything else you can think of. We made a pact in that same basement when we were younger that when we grew up and moved on, we would always be close to one another, and we kept that promise.

I am able to talk all things basketball, movies, and TV shows with my other cousin, Daniel. He knows just about anything and everything about sports and Hollywood. He tells me which shows are good and which ones I could probably skip watching. He lets me know which movies are coming out and when and he is usually first in line to see them. He has a heart of gold and teaches me a lot.

On my mom's side of the family, I am the oldest of five grandchildren. I was able to hold my younger cousins when they were born, go to their birthday parties, feed them and change their diapers. We used to climb trees together in our grandma's backyard and play outside in the leaves. We are all very close and my favorite thing to experience with them is our family's annual beach trip in the summer. We stay up late playing board games and eating junk food, wake up early in the morning to race and put our bathing suits on to go to the beach, we take our family pictures, and the list goes on.

I'm thankful for my cousins and the bonds that each of us shares. I hope everyone has a special relationship with their cousins as I have with mine. I am blessed to live very close to my cousins so we see each other often and stay in touch. If you have cousins, I encourage you to let them know how much they mean to you and make sure you see them as much as you can. They are your first friends, your forever best friends, and the ones you can always rely on.