In my generation, we have 3 sets of first cousins. Each set has one sibling with children and one without. We lost a 2nd childless sibling in one of our families when he was only 22.
We are plenty scattered: Hawaii, Northern California, Syracuse, West Texas and New York City. A peripatetic bunch!
We get along very well and are very fond of each other. I credit my grandparents on the side that connects us all; they loved us all a lot. My grandma was very determined that the entire family remain close. To that end, she held many family gatherings at her home when we were children. That set the tone. Our parents took it from there, visiting each other often — which led directly to the closeness of their children.
Not all Jewish-American families put such a strong emphasis on close family ties, and many Jewish families, here and elsewhere, were left with fewer members after Hitler.
I’m one of the childless cousins, so the love of the other cousins is especially important to me. It helps to ground me in that way that only family can.
We keep in touch often via spontaneous email chains. We talk about memories, mostly. Today, it was about my grandmother’s over-the-top passion for healthy eating that could at times drive you a little crazy.
Emails like these keep us close, despite the distances. I love my cousins, each and every one. And of course, now there’s a whole generation of first-cousins- once-removed, thanks to the siblings who chose the “children path!”
In some countries and among certain peoples, you’re only as rich as your family is large. Well we’re not all that rich from that perspective or any other, but we’ll never starve as long as someone remembers Grandma’s recipe for lentil soup and how to stretch it!