I never had cousins growing up. I mean, I did. But as a tropical island resident, everything was from afar, the cousin thing was as fantastical to me as snowy winters and road trips. I would know my cousins as beautiful people, who resembled me in physical features; same nose, same eyes, same crooked pinky. There are lots of them out there, some of whom we would visit to reacquaint every now and then, or some I had to seek out through this insane little gadget called social media.
But as far as the constant cousins, the ones you see regularly, get to know closely, grow together and get in fights with, I never had that.
My kids have that. For this I am grateful.
I love to observe the reciprocal nature of their relationships, the older ones in their duty to lead by example, with a dash of pesky ways, and the younger ones in their desire to live up to the path set forth by their older siblings, while fighting for independence of their own reputation and journey.
My oldest niece and nephew set the bar a little too high athletically, which I’m so proud of it’s almost annoying. And anyone who knows my family, knows this about them. But what I see is beyond that, at the heart of this bond are a group of kids who share experiences, inside jokes, family members, and a genuine care about one another. Their love for each other is almost so deep you would not even notice it.
This Christmas we joined them out in Kaupo, a special and sacred place for us. A place you can truly travel back in time to a space without screens, school demands, athletic expectations, likes or comments.
Here you can find yourself hiking up ridges or hunting for pigs or idly laying beneath a tree reading books or humming songs. And it’s green. So green. I sound like I’m being whimsical or poetic but this is absolutely what it is.
And to think I almost didn’t go this year.
Kainalu came home from college as did his girlfriend, Hi’ilei, who my kids look at as their own cousin. So for 24 hours we finally had each other. I was personally, a little under the weather and in a mellow mood, so I opted for the laze under the tree method while everyone around me tended to cleaning a fresh catch, preparing the imu, pouring hefty cups of celebratory drinks, hiking, sharing stories, more hunting and lots of eating.
Jaden, Nanea and I got to spend some time beneath a rainbow, dancing and laughing. The boys got muddy and exhausted, as they should. An absolute dream.
But there was a moment that made my heart burst and it didn’t involve any of these fantasy worthy statements.
It was here in this 75 year old house, where the young blood gathered and watched videos they had made on their phones. Oh yes, the forbidden screen time. It was here that they molded together, with no age or pecking order, just a group of kids, in comfortable space, creating memories. They laughed in sync, leaned on each other and for a moment, were like one entity. One little mushball (not a word) of cousins.
I have to say this trip is never without me having to pull over a bunch of times to throw up. My motion sickness does not appreciate the journey. But it was sure worth it, for sure.