I’m one of the youngest members of my extended family on both sides. On my dad’s side, I am number 11 out of 11 of my first cousins. I think my oldest cousin is almost three decades older than me. On my mom’s side, I’m number 10 out of 11. That’s made for some boring holidays in my life. I love my family, but being a 19-year-old at holiday parties was kind of miserable. I’d have small talk and catch up with people, but that’s all it felt like. Outside of personal updates, there wasn’t much to talk about. We were families who saw each other a handful of times a year and then we went on with our lives.
Now that I’m 28 and a certified adult, I’m happy that that attitude is changing. I’m a grown up who has his a job and his own place. And I think my family has finally taken note of that. I’m happy to say that I’ve even sort of become friends with some of my cousins. (Not that I wasn’t friends with my family before, but the relationships have changed where we don’t have to focus on personal things all the time.)
It’s been cool that I’ve become closer with some of my cousins.
On my dad’s side of the family, Joe Slagerman and I have bonded over football (err, soccer). At family gatherings, I’ve chatted with Joe slightly more than other relatives. We chat sports, politics, or his work as a lighting guy (I know that’s not the proper term) for film sets. But as I’ve grown to enjoy soccer more, we’ve bonded more. It’s funny when other family members hear our conversations and try to butt in. They really have no idea what we’re talking about, and I’m ok with that.
I’ve rarely hung out with family members outside of holiday functions. That changed this past year. Joe and I watched some soccer games at the Local in downtown Minneapolis this past year. They were often the highlight of my week. While we do talk about some family stuff, it’s nice to focus more of the conversation on soccer and sports. It feels like I’m hanging out with a friend. I look forward to more games this upcoming year.
On my mom’s side of the family, I’ve gotten to know Joe Fogerty and wife Amy a lot better. Even though I’m still a young cousin, my role has expanded a bit. I’m the godfather to their second child and the designated kid watcher when I’m in town. And even though I spend a lot of time with the kids, I’m taken more seriously as an adult as well. We have those grown-up conversations about home improvement, jobs, and big life decisions. We also have lighthearted chats about sports, politics, and the day-to-day minutiae of everyday life (and Star Wars.)
Being the youngest cousin had had its advantages and drawbacks. I was the last one to be able drink and I’m not always in on family news. However, that’s changed a bit. Not that I dreaded family gatherings in the past, but sometimes those gatherings felt forced and I often ran out of things to say. I’m glad that my family relationships have grown and evolved over the last few years. Family can be fun. Thanks Joe, Joe and Amy for helping me realize that.