This I Believe
Kyle and Korey… Katie and Nadia… Andy and Michelle. These are just six names of my 19 cousins. Not to mention the 12 aunts and uncles I also have, two of which live with my grandmother in the house they grew up in. Until a few months ago I lived with my mom, dad, and brother: Ben. All but four of these 32 family members live within a 30 minute drive from my home. I see each of these people frequently every year, and for that I am extremely grateful. To me, nothing is more important than family.
My dad’s mother is the only grandparent that I remember. Although she lives with two of her children, our family used to worry about her loneliness; this led to a weekly tradition of all of her children, grandchildren, and now three great-grandchildren going to her house every Saturday night to order takeout and watch whatever sporting event was on that evening. This may seem like too much family to a lot of people, but to me, my cousins are like siblings, and my aunts and uncles are like second parents.
My mom’s side of the family does not see each other quite as often as my dad’s, but my feelings towards them are still the same. Unlike a weekly tradition, we have other traditions that keep us close. One of these is a two-day Thanksgiving tradition. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday because my mom’s entire family gets together, including some of her cousins and their children. We spend the day catching up, then split into two tables: one for the kids and one for the adults. Our talks at the kids’ table haven’t changed much over the years. This past Thanksgiving, my 28 year-old cousin asked the table: would you rather fight a horse sized duck, or 100 duck sized horses. You would not believe how in-depth and controversial of a debate this question sparked. Ridiculous questions were asked: “Does the duck weigh as much as a horse? Because then it could not fly.” Changes were made to the question: “We should say a goose instead of a duck because geese are more aggressive animals.” After dinner and of course some football, we all said our goodbyes. But that is not the end to our Thanksgiving tradition; the following night we get together for a night of fun playing Bunco. If you don’t know, it is a game of rolling dice and pure chance. [Pause] we take this game too seriously. No matter where you are in the house, you can hear people yelling “roll faster!” or “BUNCO!” Everything is just in good fun, and I’m not joking when I say that we all look forward to these days year-round.
Although I believe families should enjoy the time that they spend together, there is always a time for seriousness. There have been many times when my cousins call me and ask to just have a conversation about what’s going on in their life. Often they are going through tough times and need advice or just someone to talk to. We would never turn each other away.
The night before I left for Penn State, I was with my family for my little cousin’s birthday party, her name is Eden. We all talked, played games, and soaked each other with an unreasonable amount of water balloons and surprise hose attacks. Everyone enjoyed the entire night until it was time to leave. Eden, who had just turned five, cried and cried that she wouldn’t be seeing some of her big cousins for a few months. When I got to my car and was ready to head home, she came running to me with drawings so that I wouldn’t forget her while I was away, and it finally hit me that I would not be seeing my family for a while and I became emotional. My whole life had been spent with my family and now I would be left to make a second life at college.
Throughout my first semester in college, I would call my family frequently. Occasionally I would call while everyone was at my grandma’s house and briefly speak with everyone there. But sometimes I would get busy and forget about what was going on at home. Last semester, in the middle of finals week, I realized I had gone two weeks without speaking with either of my parents. I wanted to keep studying, but instead called my parents thinking to myself: if I can’t make time for family, what is worth making time for? This I believe: Family is Everything.