Sociable shabbat, part aFriday evening, I was invited to dinner with a cousin. Now, my dad has upwards of thirty first cousins, but by far the coolest of them is B.
(To simplify things, I'm going to call her FCORB, short for 'first cousin once removed B' and describe everyone else in relation to her. If you think this is complicated, you should appreciate that I'm scarred by childhood experiences of several relatives lining up to look me up and down, conclude that I don't look like [my dad's side of the family], and then quiz me: so how am I related to you, then? And all Dad's female relatives look alike, even the ones who are only related by marriages. Anyway.)
FCORB lives in New York (obviously) with a husband, who is also a great guy, and and a son and daughter of about my age. I had met FCORB's daughter D only once previously; there have been rumours flying round since that time that I have a crush on her. Said rumours are entirely false, but anyway, she is lovely. And I'd never met FCORB's son G.
FCORB's nephew M and M's wife of a few months were also present; I hadn't met either of them before. FCORB's niece-by-marriage is originally from Hyderabad, and had offered to cook an Indian meal for everyone. Tasty, tasty Indian food; more on that when I get round to writing the post entitled 'food'. But I shall add nephew and niece-by-marriage (they are my second cousins, if you're keeping track) to the list of cool cousins. Oh, and FCORB's husband A has a very cool Arabic accent in his Hebrew. There's a perfectly good reason for this, but I had never heard him speak Hebrew before.
Anyway, we had a lovely, lovely evening. It's been too long since I had a proper family Friday night, lots of chatting about random subjects; it's so reassuring that FCORB's family are just as noisy at the dinner table as my own! And FCORB showed me some old photo albums, including pics of my grandmother (who isn't directly related to FCORB, but never mind) when she was my age. Many people have commented that she looked like me, but since I only knew her as an old woman I had never seen it. Actually there's a photo that could be a photo of me, it's quite amazing; my grandmother was rather darker than I am, but that doesn't show much in a b&w photo. I am strangely pleased to think that I take after her so much, not that I can really take credit for genetics, but anyway, I was fond of her.
The other guest was a friend of FCORB's from Liverpool, which means she also knew my Dad as he and B were inseperable as kids. FCORB's friend happened to mention that her mother had talked about Dad's family coming from the same town as her in the Ukraine. And I really pricked up my ears at this point, because Dad has always had a theory, based on linguistic evidence, that his family originally came from the Ukraine. Only we've never had any direct confirmation of this; in the immediate term the family reached England from the Pale of Settlement, somewhere in the region of modern day Latvia I think. So now I have the name of a village not far from Kiev (which apparently no longer exists) and the first real support for Dad's hypothesis. Which is pleasing.
Yay for excellent cousins!