I had a great time reconnecting with a dozen or so of my cousins on the weekend. Our aunt and uncle’s 65th wedding anniversary and 90th birthdays brought us together in Winnipeg on Saturday afternoon. Two subsequent family events were organized after the official celebrations by my Aunt Nettie who is a social planner extraordinaire. So there was lots of time for visiting and catching up.
I learned our family is certainly spreading out across North America and the globe. My cousins’ children are doing such interesting things…working on a development project in Uganda, meditating at a Buddhist retreat centre in Thailand, planning for forestry conservation in northern British Columbia, exploring South America, studying in Prince Edward Island, teaching in Hong Kong, finishing an ophthalmology residency in Florida, and publishing a thesis about a village forestry project researched in India.
I found out one of my cousins is creating online economics courses for students in Kenya. One cousin goes to Nicaragua to do eye surgery for needy people and another has started a sports program for kids in rural Alberta communities.
One cousin is planning a trip to Taiwan and another recently talked with American Vice-President Joe Biden when he visited Minneapolis. One cousin’s wife in Oklahoma has gone back to university in her fifties to get a medical degree and another cousin’s wife in rural Manitoba is making amazing ceramic artwork.
My cousins and I were fortunate to be raised in an extended family where connections with parents and siblings were a priority and so we spent lots of time together during our childhood, at our grandparents’ farm in Gnadenthal Manitoba as well as at the cottage my grandparents built at Moose Lake. Although we don’t see each other often now our parents still connect with each other weekly by phone and many of us are Facebook friends and keep track of each others lives that way.
The anniversary and birthday celebrations on the weekend created a time for us to reminisce about the past, talk about the present, and honour my aunt and uncle who have contributed to all our lives in various ways.
I’m thankful for my cousins. They shared my childhood. They shared being part of our family’s story with me and they continue to share family celebrations with me.