Today is National Sibling Day in the US, a day set aside to recognize and honor the relationships between sisters and brothers. The holiday was originally conceived by Claudia Evart, in memory of her brother and sister who both died early in life. In 2005 the holiday was officially introduced into the Congressional Record.
In researching this day, I discovered that 80% of people in the US have a sibling and that by the age of 11, children devote one-third of their time to their brothers and sisters. That’s more time than they spend with parents, teachers, friends or on their own. Having siblings teaches a child social skills, according to one study done on kindergarteners. The study revealed that children with siblings got along better with classmates than those without. The mix of boys and girls matters too. Boys that grow up with sisters are more sensitive and have better listening skills (You are welcome, Bryan!), while girls who grow up with brothers are less serious.
Do we look less serious here? Thanks, Bryan!
Relationships with siblings often outlast all other relationships. Our brothers and sisters are our first, and often our last, friends. We begin and end life with them. We quarrel, compete, wrestle, laugh, love, encourage and support each other. Being the eldest in my family, I was fiercely protective of my younger sisters and my baby brother. We are all adults, comfortably in middle age, and we still enjoy each other’s company, choose to spend time together, play and celebrate together. And I still feel protective of them. Throughout the day, working and teaching, spending time with a grandson and showing property, I thought about my siblings and felt gratitude for each of them.
Linda is the sibling closest to me in age, the person who made me a big sister. I can’t really remember a time where she wasn’t present in my life and still she is often my companion, doing firsts, going to movies, hanging out. As small children, I felt a huge sense of responsibility for her and became her interpreter when most adults couldn’t understand her rapid speech pattern. Linda lives life out loud and to the fullest, shares from her heart, loves children and animals. She is Gigi to her four grandchildren and to the rest of the kids in the family, and mom to two grown sons. She is fun, outgoing, loves to laugh. Linda teaches me about being true to who I am, and loving and accepting others, just as they are.
Debbie is my younger sister, by six years. She was so adorable as a toddler and little girl, that Linda and I had to occasionally take her down a notch! She good naturedly put up with our attempts to teach her humility, when she would bat her big brown eyes and ask, “Aren’t you glad you have pretty little ol’ me?” And of course, we were. Debbie is artistic, quiet, but with a wicked sense of humor and a vast knowledge of music and movie quotes. She is Meem to her two grandsons and the other children in the family, and mom to one daughter, who shares her love of Halloween. Debbie teaches me that happiness doesn’t always show up with a smile but sometimes with a twinkle in the eye and a witty remark and a deep sense of loyalty.
Bryan is the baby in the family, the son of my dad and stepmother. He is 14 years younger than I am. I loved him from the moment I saw him. He was a game changer, being the brother in a sibling group that had only contained sisters before his arrival. I spent many happy hours in the summer months, during my teens, playing toys with this bright, happy, inquisitive boy. Bryan was a young uncle to my children, and remarkably, my son and my brother look similar, because they both so resemble my dad….same dark hair and eyes, and same big smile. He is affectionate, fun, intelligent. He is a great dad to his two boys and his stepson. Bryan teaches me about compassion and humor and connection. He still calls me Sister, rather than using my name.
Clara Ortega says, “To the outside world, we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other’s hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time.” I love that, especially since my sisters and brother and I are far from childhood. I treasure the fact that these dear souls walk alongside me, knowing me in ways that few people do, willing to fight for me, protect me, encourage me, be with me. And I do the same for them. Together, they have taught me how powerful and unbreakable the bonds of love are. I am honored and blessed to be their sister. I am grateful for them. Happy Sibling Day Linda, Debbie and Bryan. I love you and I am grateful for you!
Having fun, Halloween 2014