1. You act more like siblings than cousins, and more like best friends than siblings.
2. Family parties are infinitely more entertaining when you have a group of you who retreat from the holiday madness and just hang out and/or observe your hilarious relatives who never fail to live up to their dysfunctional reputations.
3. They understand the ins and outs of said dysfunctional family from which you all come, and you either have the exact same opinions on who is crazy and who is not or it’s your parents who are accusing one another of insanity in which case you avoid the issue altogether.
4. They know just how good your grandmother’s food is, and appreciate it with the kind of passion you expect everybody to.
5. They lost grandparents when you did, got baby cousins when you did, dealt with one family crisis after another all at the same time you did. They were the ones there celebrating with you at your highs and mourning with you at your lows. From that comes an unprecedented kind of companionship.
6. You’re distant enough that if you didn’t want to spend so much time together, you wouldn’t have to. But you choose to, and that’s what’s most important about your relationship.
7. There are ceaseless mentions of inside jokes and old memories from the vacations you took to birthday parties you attended and boyfriends/girlfriends you introduced to the family at the holidays so awkwardly for all those years.
8. Every one of you secretly believe they’re your grandparents’ favorite. That, or the favorite is undeniably obvious but everyone kind of accepts it because whatever, be the Kim Kardashian of the cousin brigade.
9. The age gap works in 10-year increments. The 20-somethings stick together, the teens stick together, the kids stick together.
10. Though there’s always that one younger kid who fits in with the older ones and everybody is somehow okay with it.
11. Because kidding aside, age couldn’t matter less.
12. You spent your childhoods with them, at their houses, with their parents as your seconds, playing comfortably in the presence of family but wildly in the company of kids who just get you. You would argue over toys and petty things like siblings because you knew at the end of the day, you weren’t going anywhere.
13. You know all about your respective parents’ drama with one another, and you usually just sit back and enjoy the show. Alternatively: you keep each other filled in on what’s going on with the aunt and uncle who are “going through a rough time right now.” Family drama is the best drama, but only when you’re the one gawking at it.
14. They were your first best friends. The rare kind of friends who remain close to you for so many years. You once would speak about your weddings and children and jobs and careers and would talk about how the girls would be each other’s bridesmaids and your kids would play together all the time, and now that the time is slowly creeping up on you, you wish you could go back to just playing in your grandparent’s basement with your new holiday gifts.
15. Because you’re more than just friends. You’re blood. The ties that bind you are deep, the pride and loyalty you have for your family fierce. A friend is someone who will be there for you when you call, a cousin is someone who will show up anyway because there’s food.