This past Easter weekend, I got to see my three siblings. We gathered at my parents’ house for the holiday. It was really nice to be “home” together again.
Josh still lives and works in our hometown; Jared is near Philadelphia; Jenna has adopted Queens as her hometown; and I’m now up the Thruway in New York’s Capital Region.
When the four of us talk with one another, we still refer to our parents’ house, the house we grew up in, as “home.” The main reason for this, I think, is because siblings—and any people in close relationships—have developed their own shorthand over time. No backstory, explanation or even punctuation needed. On our group texts, I often communicate with X’s and O’s (and the occasional heart emoji), while Jenna prefers the eloquent, “AHHHH!!!”
Another reason for the “home as parents’ house” shorthand is because for many of us, we learn what “home” means through our families: our parents and those who are like parents; our brothers and sisters.
Home is one of those words that’s more feeling than language. Kind of like when I say to Anna, “I love you,” and she replies by giving me a hug—“I love you, too.” Home is like a hug: You are pulled (back) in; you are loved; you are known.
No one knows us quite like our siblings do. After all, they had complimentary courtside seats to all our cringe-worthy coming-of-age moments. While reminiscing during Easter dinner, Jared couldn’t help bringing up the memory of my wearing bulky sports goggles during my middle-school basketball-playing days.
“Again, with the sports goggles?” I said.
Our parents’ 35th wedding anniversary happened to be the next day, Monday. Jared had suggested we recreate an old family photo as our gift to them, a la this Huffington Post article. So we did.
We chose this picture, which hangs in our parents’ living room.
Then we asked Stanton (our honorary sibling) to make the new memory. Which he did:
The four of us haven’t changed much in 20 years, have we, friends? 🙂
Josh, Jared, Jenna and I laughed a lot as Stanton (and Grace!) helped pose us for this picture. It was fun. Later, our Mom and Dad told us they loved it.
Families come in all shapes and sizes, for all sorts of reasons. Certainly, simply having siblings doesn’t guarantee friendships with them.
In my personal experience, though, I am very thankful for my brothers and sister. And I hope, more than anything in this world, that my own daughters have many happy, healthy years together. Stanton, who has three siblings himself, agrees.
Siblings had those courtside seats to all our awkward years. They also were the people we shared summer vacations, Christmas mornings and much more ordinary moments with—instant playmates for after school, the best kind of comfort when Poppy passed away. We have a shared childhood, history, love. We may let others’ calls go to voicemail, but we answer theirs. Likewise, we know they’ll be there for us.
Something that touches my heart is watching my girls become close to my siblings, as I have. Whenever someone brings up Josh, for example, Anna smiles big and says the same three words in slow, sweet succession: “Josh—big—nice.” Yes, he is.
Life is funny. When we’re young, we argue about who gets to ride in the passenger seat next to Mom, or who got the biggest slice of dessert (“That’s not fair!”). When we’re older, what we really appreciate is getting together “at home” once again…with those familiar faces, telling the same stories over and over, so that even the honorary siblings know the punch lines.
“Again, with the sports goggles? You’re annoying.”
“I love you.”
“Talk to you soon.”
Don’t miss Melissa Leddy’s newest short fiction e-book, “This Is Just a Story.” Fun, timely and thought-provoking.