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Talking it over -- 4-22-10

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I come from a family where there are a lot of cousins especially on my dad's side. He had ten brothers and sisters and many of them also had large families. Our own family included six which was relatively small compared to those of some of my cousins.

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A couple times each year my dad's family would get together, usually at our home because we lived close to Grandma and supposedly had more room. My mom was always willing to entertain and she was good at delegating work to us and to other aunts and uncles in the area.

These gatherings could easily include up to 75 people of all ages and from all parts of the state. There were children from babies to adults with their own babies. It was a lot of fun and quite often included a competitive game of softball.

However, between all the food and games the country cousins (those of us who lived on the farms) liked to play tricks on the city cousins. We just felt it was our duty to initiate them into country life in some of the most bazaar ways.

One of our favorites was to line everyone up, making sure a city cousin was on the end, and then have the person on the other end touch an electric fence. The electric current promptly passed through each person in the line, feeling somewhat like a tickle, until it reached the last person who got the full jolt. (Children don't try this at home). I think electric fences had less current then so we could get by with it. Another trick we would play was to have them touch the same fence with a weed, assuring them that it wouldn't hurt but, of course, it did.

We often took the city cousins into the barn and pasture for a real taste of the farm. We purposely guided them in areas where they were guaranteed to step in cow pies or get hit with the swishing tail of a cow. The chicken house was a fun stop where we encouraged them to reach under a roosting bird to pick the warm eggs coming back with a peck on the arm.

We were really very mean to our city cousins and I truly regret many of the things we did. However, I have to admit that they had ways of getting back at us when we visited the city. I recall being taken several blocks from their home to visit a friend and promptly forgotten(?) there and left to find my own way home.

Shopping centers were torture to the country cousins while city cousins ventured from store to store without any trouble navigating through aisles and around people. The noise, crowds and vast expanse of product seemed to boggle our country minds.

When I think back to my youth I often smile fondly when I remember my city cousins. They were real troopers when it came to our antics and to their credit they continued to come back to visit us whenever their parents forced them along. Slowly as the years went by we grew to love and respect each other in very unique ways. They are even willing to visit and continue to talk to us so I guess all has been forgiven.

Now as my grandchildren grow up together as cousins I have to wonder what they have in store for each other. It may just be fun to see how they will introduce their very own unique world into the life of their cousins. I am not sure if I should tell them the stories of how I treated my cousins.

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