Cousins celebrate 18th anniversary
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
Weary of only seeing her family at hospitals and funerals, Idalene Singleton decided 18 years ago to gather her relations for something other than a sad occasion.
Since that time in 1987, her family has met monthly to share a covered dish lunch, fellowship, memories and outreach to their communities.
From Hartselle to Oneonta, members of the Self family meet at members' homes, local parks and churches for their meetings of the Country Cousins Club. Members Ray and Donna Weeks and their musical group, Shadow Mountain, often entertain the group with bluegrass, gospel and country tunes.
"We have a good time," Country Cousin Dot Maples said. "It's so wonderful to see our cousins and family just for fun."
Each meeting begins with a special blessing before the meal: "Let the words of my moth, and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord, my strength and my redeemer." Psalms 19:14
The Country Cousins hold hands for the blessing and share prayer requests for family and friends, especially those who are sick or serving their country in foreign lands.
A meal featuring homemade favorites like Zadie Quattlebaum's fried fruit pies and Evalene Orr's Mexican cornbread is then enjoyed while the Country Cousins catch up on recent happenings, reminisce through family photo albums, and make pictures to add to the club's photo album.
"We used to have waists in these pictures," Maples jokes. "That was before we started eating all of this good food every month."
The food is so good, in fact, the Country Cousins have published and sold two cookbooks. Some of the proceeds from the book sales go to fund club activities, but the majority goes to community outreach projects.
"We have donated money to Hospice, cancer research, tornado disaster relief, and much more," Maples explained.
On March 24, the Country Cousins met at Mt. Zion Church to celebrate their 18th birthday. Their birthday wish was simple.
"Let's just hope that after we're all gone that the young people of the family will carry on meeting like this," Maples said.