Somewhere, I've read "Our cousins are our first friends." When you stop and think about it... the statement is very true. It's in these somewhat forced and permanent acquaintances that we learn to interact and form relationships. It is the safe place to learn how to be a friend. They really are built in buddies. Unfortunately, time will change these bonds. People grow up and grow apart and you don't see your cousins as much as you used to. But it doesn't take long to reconnect and get right back into relationship. The connection of shared experiences brings everyone together and the distance from time fades away.
I was blessed with wonderful cousins both far and near... and lots of them. Over the last few years we've been able to reconnect through visits and Facebook and it has truly been a blessing. Leroy grew up with all of his first cousins living nearby with regular family gatherings to keep them together. Even now (tonight) we get many opportunities to spend time with his cousins. Each time there is lots of laughter and reminiscing... and of course lots of teasing.
One of the best things about watching our own children grow up has been the transformation of their relationships with their own cousins. Some of them fought like cats and dogs, and now they are close friends. We know from experience the worth and importance of those moments spent together. I look forward to the days when they will all sit around as friends and reminisce about growing up together. I can't wait to hear their versions of our stories.