Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
For Your Journal: Writing Prompt

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Do you keep a journal - or wish you could get one started? Literary Mama wants to help.

Three times a month, I'll post a writing prompt. Open a notebook and write for 10 minutes. Don't worry about grammar or punctuation - just write. Then let the writing simmer and your mind wander for awhile.

And who knows? Maybe you'll discover a character for your next short story or a theme for a narrative essay. Or maybe you'll use the idea to create a special holiday card or photo album for someone in your family. However you decide to use your journal entry, I know you'll enjoy re-reading it months--and years--down the road.

Also: Every three months, I'll accept submissions and choose a few pieces to post for LM readers to enjoy.

At their grandmother's funeral in 1999, my husband and his cousins stood outside the church and reminisced. Like many families, they had crowded into the matriarch's home once a year to exchange gifts and share a meal. Slowly, the stories gave way to good-byes, and then one cousin asked, "When will we see you guys, again? I doubt we'll keep coming at Christmas now that Huldah's gone."

It was a good question. Fourteen years separated the oldest cousin from the youngest. Some were busy with college; others were starting jobs, getting married, or starting a family. Though they shared many childhood memories, they were too old to create new ones through games of hide-and-seek and too young to have many adult experiences in common. Plus, they lived in three different states.

Huldah's passing could have easily turned family into distant relatives. But, a few months later, my husband's parents and his aunts and uncles started talking: "You have to get together, so you can get to know each other as adults," they said to the cousins. "Otherwise, you'll never be part of each other's lives."

It took a couple of years, but, thanks partly to their organization and partly to their pressure, the Converse Reunion was born - and we've been re-uniting with my husband's cousins and their families for the past 10 years.

At our first get-together, the cousins rehashed details of their youth. For many of the stories, we in-laws could only listen and ask questions, but in subsequent years, childhood tales have given way to conversations that both cousins and spouses could appreciate. The present is mixed in with the past.

Our age difference no longer matters. Just as the older generation predicted, we've gotten to know each other, and we've learned that we like each other.

For years, we united simply because we were Huldah's children and grandchildren (or had married one of them). But now, we're connected by more than blood. We re-unite, because we choose to. We understand that it isn't the food that brings us to the table, it's the people sitting around that table.

And to be honest, it's no longer my husband's generation who reaps the most benefit from our get-togethers. It's the current third generation -- the oldest of whom is 19. They're surrounded, embraced, and celebrated by a group of adults who care about who they are and who they are becoming.

A new generation of silly moments and remembrances is emerging, and through that process, we unite.

Journal Entry: Write about one of your cousins. Describe a time you were together as children and another time you met as adults.

Note: This text is part of a longer piece, originally published in The Christian Science Monitor.

Karna ConverseĀ is a freelance writer who’s written everything from technical documentation and price proposals to newsletter articles, devotionals, personal profiles and essays. Her essays have been published in a variety of regional and national publications, including The Christian Science Monitor, Notre Dame Magazine, the Cup of Comfort and Chicken Soup anthologies, Our Iowa, and on Iowa Public Radio. She and her husband are parents to three young adults. Karna is a former blog editor, senior editor, managing editor, and editor-in-chief of Literary Mama.

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