Two of the babies are not our cousins--we have no idea who they are, in fact--and this photo was taken pre-Benjamin or any of the three youngest kids.
When were were kids, we could hardly wait to for visits with the cousins. As soon as everyone convened at my grandparents' house, we would disappear upstairs, free from our parents' prying eyes, to concoct some brilliant skit or dramatic dance performance (which was inevitably captured on video. We watched several last year, and they are awesome... awesomely horrifying, that is. As G says, "It's not so much how bad we were, it's how good we thought we were).
Most of us are in our late teens and 20s now, so skits are a thing of the past, but we still flock to the kids' table for dinner. Our antics are of a different variety--this year, as we sat around eating barbeque the day after Thanksgiving, we came up with ways to haze incoming cousins-in-law (the first of us is getting married this summer).
"They won't know what hit them when we start singing in parts."
"Hey--what if we all nonchalantly pull out instruments instead?"
"Yeah, we have flutes and an oboe and a horn--"
"Anybody have a violin?"
"I'll bring a rain stick."
1997? Don't know, but we're on vacation in Florida, and I am sick. This was also my awkward phase, as illustrated by my bangs and braces.
Before each meal, the whole family makes a circle and joins hands, the one brief time each year when we are all together--quiet and focused. And then there's this moment, right when we launch into the Doxology, as we slip into the well-worn harmonies, when you see everyone look around and smile. We're all musical, but in none of our other ensembles do we experience this particular feeling--of tradition and of family.
And then someone--usually my uncle Jeff--throws in a suspension and we're forced to hold the last chord until he decides to resolve it. And we all dissolve into laughter. Time to eat!
Cousins--all of us--and grandparents, Thanksgiving 2008