Painting on canvas of three players at a card table; a few cards fallen off the table; a King card painted painted with a red Michigan map instead of hearts.

Cards in the Family

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Trevor van Loosbroek interviewed Kyle Dennis about his family.

My sister Rachel, my sister Sarah, my mom Stacey, my dad Brian, my Grandma, my Grandpa, my uncle Todd, my cousin Ashley. These are a few members of my family. However, my family is better resembled by a group of friends. Aside from uncle Todd, we all live near each other. We are there for one another in times of need. We are all players in ideological playgrounds with each other. We are a hive for inside jokes and bad puns to fester. We are family, and we are friends.

Most of my family on my mom’s side lives in Michigan and we are all spread out about 20-30 minutes from each other. This has really developed our relationship. We see each other a lot and I am just as comfortable with one of my 12 cousins as I am with one of my sisters. It is a sense of community, a really personal one, that I am so lucky to be a part of. Although, not all my family lives close. My uncle Todd lives in North Carolina. Whenever we see him, though, he comes right into the swing of things and joins this community.

To understand the family dynamic I’ll tell a story. Every year my immediate family takes a trip to Florida during spring break. It just so happened that one year my cousins had off of school at the same time we did. This lead to our families collaborating for a shared vacation. Our time there was spent playing a lot of cards. During a game of Five Crowns my uncle Todd put his cards down without showing anyone. He said, “Guys, I’m not going to show you my cards. I’m calling trustees.” We all demanded that he showed his cards but he responded with one word, “Trustees.” Since then the term “trustees” is thrown around, as a joke, but also as a sure way to ensure trust between one another. It may be a joke, but it truly is symbolic of how trusting and open my family is with one another.

Over time my family has developed a ton and I think that played a large role in the community feeling. As children my parents were nurturing but so were my grandparents and my aunts and uncles. However, as we got older you could tell grandparents, aunts, and uncles started showing us their wit, quickness in a debate, and snappy teasing. If anyone misspeaks, everyone else is on that person. If I were to say, “Easy as lake” accidentally, rather than “easy as cake,” everyone would immediately start saying, “Well, I don’t know if a lake were to taste that good.” It’s that kind of playful teasing that keeps everyone on their toes.

My family is very transparent with one another; we do not keep secrets from one another. We tell each other what is going on and look towards each other for support. Everyone in my family, aunts, uncles, or cousins, are always willing to do everything in their power to give help to each other. My younger sister and I are particularly close. Every day my senior year, we would drive to and from school together. Each and every day we got to know each other more, through jokes, school, and real talk. It was those car rides that meant a lot to me. I consider myself lucky to be around such a supportive net of fun, smart, caring, and witty people. My family shares many traits and they all helped me develop into the person I am today. I know when I am in need they will be there for me. Rather than tell one particular story I wanted to paint a picture of what my family means to me. My family is more than just family; we are friends.

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