Childhood Memories Friday: Cousins

Childhood Memories FridayThanksgiving is coming, and it’s a time for family get-togethers. When I think of childhood family gatherings, I always think of cousins. You gotta love the idea of cousins:  built-in playmates when you go visit relatives. My sister had a book called “Eighteen Cousins.”

It was a repetitive book, along the lines of “Brown Bear, Brown Bear,” and I still remember the line “Eighteen cousins, and one little me.”

I always thought it would be great to have 18 cousins, but alas, I only made it to 10. And some of those were so much younger than I was that they hardly counted. As the oldest child on both sides of the family, I felt more like a babysitter/teacher than a real playmate, although I had a few cousins on my dad’s side who weren’t too much younger.

I remember being so excited each time I learned I would have a new cousin. Once at my grandma’s I remember a new baby cousin sleeping in a dresser drawer (taken out of the dresser). I was fascinated by that!

There was often a kids’ table for holiday meals, and I remember the year I “graduated” to the adult table. I was not a bit happy about this, far preferring the company of the kids.

My cousins on my dad’s side were all girls; there were 4 of us for most of my growing-up years. We would sit in a guest bedroom and talk about how we couldn’t believe it was actually Christmas day! We also tried communicating through air vents and once tried crawling into a baby bed to see if it could hold us (a phone rang immediately after we got in, scaring us to death as we quickly scrambled out. We thought it was some type of alarm!).

Do you have any memories of cousins during your childhood?

4 thoughts on “Childhood Memories Friday: Cousins

  1. One of my cousins, my youngest in fact, was burned as a child. She was hospitalized for what now seems like a month or more. I was a student nurse training at the hospital where she was a patient. Each day I would do my regular day duty and then I would go to her room and stay with her while her mom went home to be with the rest of the family. While her mom didn’t help with the dressing changes, I did. She came to associate the accompanying pain, which is severe, with me, and also her mother’s departure always came after I entered the room. And so she developed a fear of me. Some weeks later, when she was out of the hospital, we saw each other at Grandma’s house, and she turned around and ran when she saw me. That was painful for me, albeit understandable. I would guess that now, about 45 years later, she doesn’t even remember the incident.

  2. My cousin Dianne was a year older than me and lived in Holland. I often got to sleep over at their home and I loved it. Her mother, Aunt Helen, loved animals. They had rabbits in cages. Aunt Helen was fun, too. She did craft type activities and also gave piano lessons. Uncle Frederick was soo funny with things he would say! Dianne & I both played the piano. I remember at Grandma Kamman’s, we two would pump away on Grandma’s player piano. The song I most remember us rendering was “Beautiful Ohio”. Dianne had a neighbor who made dolls and doll outfits and I was about green with envy over that fact. Dianne & I are still friends as we bob on the waves of life’s sea.

  3. I have many good memories of my 8 first cousins counting both sides of the house. On the McLaughlin side, I still have 5 cousins and on the Rupert side, I only had 3 (but now only 2 are are still living). I will actually get to see cousin Johnny McLaughlin this Sunday AM at the United Methodist Church in Auburn, where he lives and is choir director. My husband Joe is playing piano for a Thanksgiving special program at this church, and then my cousin and his wife have invited us to lunch afterwards. I am excited to see my cousin, because he is a career teacher so we always have had much to talk about, plus I don’t get to see him very often.

    My famous cousin was Gene Hartley of Roanoke, IN and later Indianapolis where he raced in the Indy 500 at the Speedway. I actually went to the big race in 1956 when I was still in high school. I think that was the year that he came in either 8th or 10th. He raced in the Indy 500 for 12 years and many other midget races for many years in the 1950s and 60s. Gene was my oldest cousin. I also remember going to his wedding when I was in second grade, which I thought was a pretty big deal, especially since it was my first wedding to attend.

    Most of my cousins became teachers as grown-ups. We loved big family Sunday dinners on birthdays, anniversaries, and most holiday events. Two girl cousins, Jean Ann and Mona Lue, taught me to ride a bicycle by pushing me off a rather big hill at Grandpa Rupert’s house. I still can’t believe I didn’t crash big time on that very first try, but I do remember wobbling quite a bit. Not much instruction was given, so it was quite an adventure for a 6-year-old on a full size bike. Lucky that I was tall for my age! That hill still looks big to me and rather dangerous as well. The best memories for me was staying for a whole week at each other’s houses for a whole week at a time in summer or taking short trips together. All of my cousins still live in IN, except for Larry who lives in TX now, and they range in age from 75 down to 55 today. Happy memories!

  4. I have 6 cousins from one side and 10 on the other. I hardly saw ANY of them growing up, and usually at holiday functions. You are so lucky to have these memories of cousins… my cousins and I always got along and we had fun during the times we were together, but we were never close… I hope my own baby will HAVE cousins his own age (right now the prospects are looking slim!) and if he does that he will be able to form a close relationship. 🙂

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