Most years I would consider the sentiment, “I am looking forward to Thanksgiving” a bit strange, since Thanksgiving has never been high on my list of eagerly anticipated holidays. Really I have nothing against Thanksgiving; rather, I just could never bring myself to place it on the same level of expectancy as other major holidays. This year, though, I am actually looking forward to the upcoming holiday because it is a time that signifies family and appreciation almost more than any other.
I am the youngest and the only girl in a family of three children, and I cannot imagine a better arrangement. My oldest brother was off to college when I was in sixth grade, and by the time I was a sophomore in high school, I lived life as an only child at home with my parents. It was the weirdest thing to get used to, and though I think I always appreciated my brothers on some level, not having them around accentuated their significance in my life like never before.
We are all getting older, and honestly, I cannot believe how fast time is flying by. I am sure everyone has, at one point, been told by an elder in a voice characterized by definitive wisdom that as people get older, time goes faster. I never really thought much about this interesting concept until recently when I discovered that days and weeks had somehow slipped under my fingertips without my even noticing they were gone, until I realized that I had to flip my adorable Lulu desk calendar to the next page. I mournfully waved farewell to the October scene, which depicted a pleasant drawing of little characters dressed up as pumpkins and witches. I was just getting used to that drawing on my desk.
I had quite the wake-up call a few weeks back when my oldest brother told my parents, my other brother and me that he is not going to be home for Christmas this year because his girlfriend’s family has invited him to spend the jolly season in Hawaii. Not for a second would I ever consider blaming him for abandoning tradition and accepting such an exotic invitation, but it was at that moment when I realized something I always knew was true but never before had been forced to acknowledge: times are changing. This year I look forward to Thanksgiving because we will all be together – the first time in a long time and probably the last time for a while.
Some Villanovans are only children but more are either the younger sibling, the one stuck in the middle or the responsible older child, who endures all the harsh restrictions that the youngest escapes when crossing the once-forbidden boundaries. Those who have been blessed to be the youngest know the influential capacities of older brothers or sisters. It is essential that older siblings know the power they have over their younger siblings and understand that with such influence, comes a world of responsibility that cannot be ignored.
It goes without saying that family has a tremendous amount to do with the people we all become because the values of our families are the ones we either come to cherish in our own hearts or rip to shreds out of rebellion and an urge to set ourselves apart.
Mom and Dad teach us bobbles of life’s essence that we could not possibly acquire elsewhere, but siblings have their own tales to tell. They share their special secrets through the actions they take and the involvement they seek in each other’s lives.
Looking back, I know that my brothers have taught me many things, trifles that I could not have learned or would not have absorbed as completely had they come from someplace else. I do not know when they taught me the things I have picked up from them, but I think it was while playing Legos on the rug or driving Micro Machines through the narrow roads of the Super Van City play set. I learned while wrestling on a twin bed and being thrown to the ground, which had been pre-padded with pillows and sleeping bags in the event of such an inevitable disaster. I learned from them while playing Horse and 21 by the hoop in the backyard when I was always given a 10-point head start. They taught me when they invited me into their private spheres with their friends, letting me be the DJ or calling me to participate in tickle attacks on their girlfriends. I was always included in the lives of my brothers, and I learned without even knowing I was being taught.
Siblings are one of the greatest gifts of life, especially in the beginning when we are all just trying to find our way. They are peers and best friends who cannot get distorted with the stretch of time. Sometimes they may take a precious American Girl doll and hang her by the neck from the doorknob of their little sister’s room so that when she comes to it, she unexpectedly finds her doll swinging to and fro – a scene of utter terror. Most of the time, they have best interests at heart. Brothers and sisters have a bond that cannot be broken. Lucky are we.
My mom, who loves John Mayer, called me the other day to say that she was fed up with his “stupid new CD” that makes her tear up while listening to the lyrics in the car, causing her to have to pull over. I assume she is speaking of the song “Stop This Train,” a tune about changing times. I miss my brothers, but in no way do I want to stop the train and get off the different individual tracks we are all traveling.
Though at times it is hard to comprehend the speed at which we are moving, the ride is too exciting to slow down. There are moments when the tracks converge, and those moments are filled with show and tell of lands we have traveled and people we have met out on our own.
Be involved, keep in touch, and for those older siblings out there, remember that even when you do not think you are teaching anything, your younger sibling is learning something. This Thanksgiving take a breather from mouthfuls of turkey, stuffing and all things heavenly to look around the table, and be thankful for the friends that surround you. They are the ones who will always bethere, even when they are away.