The table that is special to me has essentially nothing to do with a physical table. It can take place at any table that can seat seven people. What is really important is the people, specifically my cousins. There are seven of us, my older brother, me, and five girls ranging in age from 10–16, now. The table most associated with this is at my grandparents’ house, but it follows us to any place we eat at.
While the cousin table started at first out of necessity–because in order to seat all fifteen of my family members at one table we have to take over the living room, too–it has continued for other reasons. Sitting at the cousin table has a variety of perks: we get first dibs on all the food, we can talk about things that are more interesting than whatever adult stuff the adults talk about, and we get some quality cousin time. (An unexpected benefit is that since some of the younger cousins still get their meat precut for them, a lot of the time the older set also gets precut meat, which is convenient.)
As we have all gotten older, the issue of when/if you graduate from the cousin table has arisen. My brother is 22, so by all normal standards he should have transitioned to the adult table. Originally the cut off was when you turn 18, but when that rolled around it was extended to when he graduated high school. But that soon turned into graduating from college, which turned into getting married (he’s not yet), which has been extended pre-emptively into having your own kids, or turning 50 (whichever comes first).
While my brother has at least partially transitioned to the adult table (it was about 50% of the time this last visit), I’m not sure I will ever transition. I am the next oldest, but I don’t think they will ever let me leave. Logistically, we can’t all graduate from the cousin table. As previously mentioned there are a lot of us and we don’t really fit anywhere all together.
The last time my cousins came to visit we talked about the future of the cousin table. Essentially we decided that the cousin table will probably continue in some shape forever. It is the most natural division of our family, and that’s not going to change. There was also some discussion of if/when we all have kids, will there be cousins’ childrens’ table?
The cousins table has seen some dramatic changes over the years; our conversations have shifted from the imaginary games we all played together to more real life conversations like college (though we still have plenty of very odd conversations). It has also witnessed us all growing up from very small children, to mostly self sufficient humans, capable of cutting our own meat, for instance. In any event, the cousin table is a constant source of fun and love.
(The Cousins standing on the table that their Grandad built.)
Marta Hill is the Editor-in-Chief of St. Louis Park High School’s award winning newspaper, Echo.