Friday, December 24, 2004

A bevy of cousins

I spent Christmas Eve with my mum's side of the family and it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. When greeting my alarmingly developed cousins I almost bit off my tongue to keep from exclaiming, "Gosh, you're so tall! You're so big!" - as an expat family member, I was used to these annual squeals, and they annoyed me no end, because I didn't feel any bigger. I was resolved not to be that annoying older relative - and it was remarkably difficult. After my second glass of bubbly I confessed these fears to my cousin Sam (who's now in Year 10, gosh! And he's bloody huge!) Sam said, "Oh, that's okay, I would have taken it as a compliment." And it dawned on me that Sam sees all his relatives all the time, because they live in Canberra, and so nobody has a chance to be surprised by his growth, and he never has people squealing at him about how tall and grown-up he is now. So let me be an example to you, folks: double-check your mental models!

I spent much of the evening drawing pictures of winged unicorns for my eight-year-old cousin Belinda, and let me just mention for the record that nobody has ever had a cousin so brilliant, wise, beautiful, and artistically talented. Belinda sent me a card earlier this year, covered in glitter, with the message: "Dear Zoe. I hope you are having a good time in America. When are you coming to Australia? We really miss you. Love Belinda." (In response to which my ovaries, trained though they are at thumping, practically exploded.) When I first saw her Belinda was really shy. She kept on following me around the backyard, but whenever I turned around to look at her she'd duck behind a chair or somebody's legs, and peek out bashfully.

But the unicorn pictures were an excellent ice-breaker, and opened up the floodgates of conversation. "You know Zoe," Belinda said thoughtfully, "I reckon I've got a lot of stuff, and half of it I don't even use. There's just all this stuff in my bedroom that people keep buying for me, and I don't really want it. I'd rather just make stuff or play with the stuff I got." Pause to apply glitter to her shooting star picture, as my heart swelled with pride. "Zoe, what was the greatest thing that ever happened to you? And why? And what was the grossest thing you ever had to do, you know, like cleaning up stinky dog poo that was full of maggots?"

One comment and two questions, all, I believe, very appropriate for Christmas. Merry Christmas, dear readers; I wish you peace, happiness, and an appropriate balance between relaxation and alarm. Oh, and thank you so much for all the emails, I've been really touched by the letters and I'm glad to know that my ramblings have given some of you some pleasure. Best wishes....


Post a Comment

<< Home