I'm grateful Mom herded us all together, as often as she thought she could get away with. Our kids grew up with cousins they consider now to be friends, and my sister and I take comfort in being able to share aches and pains no one else would want to hear.

I get where my obsession comes from, but I'm also not willing to change it. While attending a family member’s wedding recently I had the pleasure of visiting with aunts, uncles and cousins who I don’t see often enough. I grew up with these folks, so we can pick up a conversation that may have been stalled for several years from not seeing each other. These people truly are forever friends as we’re connected by a bond we formed as kids.

I push for the grandchildren to be together as well as the adult children. They may not think it's important now, but someday they'll be glad they were encouraged to be a close-knit group. When you allow relatives, whether by birth or marriage, to know you inside and out, as an adult, they understand the good, the bad and the ugly, without anything having to be explained. They accept unacceptable behaviors and applaud accomplishments without having to be told what or why.

This network of family is untouchable by others and more valuable than a thousand friends.

Maybe it's just a coincidence, but it seems the males in the family are the ones thinking we get together too often, while the females love to pull out our calendars and plan the next event. I often wonder if the guys are in some sort of a secret competition to see who can do the most whining.

They should consider themselves lucky I only plan something only once a month that requires everyone to show up. We went to Grandma's house every Saturday, every week, no matter what else was going on, and this tradition didn't end when I moved out of the house. My girls grew up knowing Saturday morning was time for their grandma and great-grandma.

My sister called and said she had a long hair growing out of the bridge of her nose. I laughed until I nearly peed my pants, but I get her and what she was really saying is, "I'm so glad we're getting old together."

I cherish the relationship I have with my sister. We are polar opposites, on almost every level, but we have shared our lives with each other so we understand what the other is saying, without really saying it. She's the only one I'd ever tell my true weight to and the only one I'd not take when she says I need to lose a few.

I have a surprise for the men in the family. The holidays are coming. Get out your calendars.

Sandy Turner lives in Independence. Email her at sandydownhome@hotmail.com.