They include my mother (Yay!) and one of my favorite cousins from the Netherlands, Monique.
My mother had nine siblings, so in the Netherlands we had a big extended network of aunts, uncles and uncountable cousins. Some of them I saw sometimes, but Monique lived almost in our backyard (a five minutes walk if you walked slowly) so I saw her all the time.
We played together, we would go places together, we would do so many things together. Some of them good, some of them maybe not perfect.
We were accused of shop lifting together (No, we didn't actually DO it, they just didn't trust those three little suspicious looking girls) and we had to prove to the store's security guy that we did not shop lift by emptying our pockets.
Well, let's just say that my pockets kind of were (and still are) a one way dead-end street. So many items make it in, but nothing ever made it out. So while Monique and our other friend emptied their pockets in about three seconds flat, I kept finding more and more items in my pocket. In addition to that I continued to locate more and more pockets.
There were papers, there were old candy wrappers, there were interesting stones, there were paper clips, there were batteries, there were way more things than ever fitted in my hands or any one's hands. I guess after a while the guy was convinced that either we didn't shop lift, or that he didn't really want to deal with a whacko like me who could fit the volume of a horse in trinkets and gadgets and whatevernots in her pockets.
Monique had an older brother and every night they used to play soccer in their hallway. Not a huge soccer ball, they used a smaller ball, but still it was cool that they were allowed to play soccer in the house at all. Although after enough soccer nights there weren't any pictures left to be hit/broken by the ball, so I bet that helped.
But the biggest thing ever, that I am still traumatized about was that Monique had a swing INSIDE her house! An indoors swing!!!! In her bed room door! She could swing whenever she wanted. She could swing day and night, in rain and snow and hail and even when we had the car-less Sundays and couldn't go anywhere. And poor me? I soooooooooo desperately wanted a swing like that in my house. I thought it was terribly unfair that I didn't! Like I said, I am still traumatized by it!
Sure, she let me use her swing, but I wanted my OWN! And people wonder why I am so messed up!
One time Monique and I were teenagers and we went to a daytrip to an amusement park (the Efteling for the Dutch among us). We made mistakes in our train choice and somehow ended up somewhere totally different on the way back home, it would take at least two more hours, and knew we would be in trouble for coming home late.
Luckily we had the brilliant idea that instead of both calling our own mom to tell them, we could call each other's mother. So Monique called my mom and I called Monique's mom and both mothers totally didn't want to yell at us because we weren't their own daughter. Such a wonderful plan!
That was back in the days that we couldn't just whip out our cell phones and call or text home. We actually had to locate a pay phone, hunt for quarters ("Madam, could you by any chance change a dollar into four quarters?") and life was so much harder and it was uphill both ways.
Apart from there not being many hills in the Netherlands but that is beside the point!
Anyway, I am thrilled to have them over and we have had a good time talking about those old memories.