When I was a kid, I didn’t like Christmas with the Cooley family. The two oldest boys, David and Austin, were 3 and 5 years younger than me. When you’re a kid, 3 and 5 years makes a big difference.
The boys idolized my older brother Nathan. When he wasn’t around to wrestle with them and teach them new ways of getting into trouble, Corrie, who was close to David’s age, and Lauren, who was close to Austin’s age, got all the attention. My Christmases with the Cooleys were confined to reading. I can remember some of the books that I read in less than a day because I usually read them at the Cooley’s house.
Then, we all started to grow up. Nathan moved off and joined the army. David and Austin became teen-agers and got girlfriends. Corrie, Lauren, and I, well, we didn’t need any big changes to become adults. I guess it just happened. First for me; then for them. With this growing up came less of a desire for those typical kid things. The desire to be entertained was replaced with a desire to chill and enjoy each other’s company. And with all of these changes, time with the Cooley family became more enjoyable.
My first transition from the anti-social, older cousin to the semi-cool, it's-okay-if-we-talk-to-each-other cousin was on a road trip between Atlanta and Ft. Benning, GA. Long story, but somehow David and Austin road with me to watch Nathan graduate from Ranger school. From then on, if I was at the Cooley’s or the Cooleys were at our house, I would hang with the cousins and books were forever—almost—laid aside.
David and Austin had a good time with this. Jokingly they were in awe that I actually talked to them. I, on the other hand, finally got to enjoy two cousins that I had formerly dismissed as immature. Discussions between the Spearing girls and the Cooley boys now range from love life, to social life, to life life. And there is always more laughter than not.
Also, there is plenty of random fun to go around, signified by our activities on the last Christmas together. We divided up into teams and created a scavenger hunt for each other. We spent the entire afternoon driving around town, goofing off and making just a few more memories.
This past week, I went to Atlanta to go to some stores that we don’t have in Huntsville. My sister Julie and I stopped by the Cooley’s and ended up going to a Braves game and then spending the night. I hadn’t seen my cousins in a long time and it felt good to hang out with them in an unplanned setting.
I also got to enjoy spending time with the younger Cooleys. They are growing up, too. The older they get, the more fun they become. It’s a treat to watch them grow up along side my younger siblings.
Today, I look forward to Christmas with the Cooleys. I treasure them, knowing we’ll all be so grown up some day that we won’t do them any more.
But for now, I’m just going to enjoy them and anticipate what fun we’re going to have next.