|calabash cousins, after a long, dirty week at camp together|
Have you ever heard of calabash cousins? If you grew up in Hawaii, you probably had some. Hawaii is in the center of the Pacific, and is probably one of the most culturally diverse states in our country. With the constant flux of people moving in and out of the islands, it's very important to develop a support network. Families become very close with their friends and neighbors, often doing barbecues together on the beach, or just hanging out. People become just like family, and kids grow up together as "calabash" cousins. Even the big local families, who have no shortage of members, often adopt friends as a part of the family. I feel like our church was a big calabash family for me, with all my extended family far away. When I went off to college, they threw me a graduation party, and even made me a quilt. When I got married quickly, at a young age, they rallied together and threw the best beach potluck wedding reception for me, making sure everything was just perfect. I love my calabash family in Hawaii, and I thank God for them. They were the aunties and uncles I didn't have close by. They were the mentors and friends I needed.
The calabash is a gourd, native to Africa and Asia, which was domesticated, then grown for use as a water container. In Hawaii, the calabash is a large serving bowl in the middle of a meal table. So a calabash cousin is someone you often share food with, and feel very comfortable with. My kids have calabash cousins, even way out here in Washington. Rather than explain the complicated family connection between myself and my husband's cousin, who's my dearest friend, the kids just call her auntie, and call her kids their cousins. Because I started having kids before most everyone I knew, I was glad to have Josie's kids to grow up alongside mine, doing trick or treating, birthday parties, and going to camp together. I love that I have a friend who's just like a sister, with whom I can share my worries and triumphs. I'm thankful for calabash families.