Jeff is seven years my junior and so I am very protective of him. Sometimes I feel more like a mother to him than a sister.
I have another brother, too. Dan is only two years younger than me and for much of our childhood, we were thick as thieves. We did not want another sibling, not that anyone asked us. Having a baby around was a nuisance and took a lot of the attention away from us. So not cool.
Eventually, we found our rhythm. The boys fought a lot, like brothers do, but they also became very close. When our parents did in fact divorce, we knew that we had to stick together, even though we were so young.
I was already in college during much of Jeff’s formative years and was so shocked when I came home for visits to see how much he had grown. In my mind, he was my baby brother, but in reality, he was taller, stronger and smarter than I could ever be.
The inevitable divorce of my parents left many scars. However, one thing that my mom tried to do was have certain traditions that we did without fail. Birthday Dinner was one of those traditions.
Every year, without fail, we would have “Birthday Dinner” for Jeff. Since his birthday is also a national holiday and everyone is off from school/work, it was an easy excuse to get together one last time before the new year started.
Jeff went to school out of state. He was almost always home for New Year’s, but if he wasn’t, we still had a dinner in his honor.
When Jeff got married, he lived in yet another state for some time. Birthday dinner was still there.
When Jeff and his new wife quit their jobs and traveled around the world, they did not always make it back home. Birthday dinner still happened. They would Skype from Thailand or Bulgaria or Turkey and we would do our best to catch up and celebrate Jeff’s birthday.
Now Jeff has a family of his own. They are living mere minutes from me. We see each other often and he is as involved in my family’s life as I am in his. My daughter explodes with excitement when she sees him walk into a room and his daughter and newborn son both love to spend time with all of us.
We rarely miss birthday dinner. Dan and his wife and their two daughters, Jeff and his family, my husband, daughter and me…and our mom, cooking away all day to make sure birthday dinner would be perfect. She is the thread that weaves us all together. She is responsible for us all being not just family, but also friends.