Did you realize that last week — April 10 — was “National Siblings Day”? Chances are you missed it like I did. I didn’t hear about it until after the fact, partly because it’s not a very well-publicized occasion… but it should be! Siblings make life fun and meaningful, and help create countless memorable moments among families both young and old.
National Siblings Day is the brainchild of Claudia Evart, who thought up the day as a way for siblings to “honor, recognize and celebrate” each other. She is the founder and director of the Siblings Day Foundation.
Evart, a freelance paralegal from Manhattan, lost her two siblings in separate accidents early in life. Evart chose April 10 as Siblings Day because it is the birthday of her late sister, Lisette.
Although Siblings Day still has a long way to go to be formally recognized and widely celebrated in the U.S., awareness of this occasion is growing, especially through social media. Many celebrities took to Facebook to acknowledge their brothers and sisters, and “Happy National Siblings Day” was even a trending topic on Twitter last Tuesday.
I was an only child for over six years, and I have very distinct memories of praying to God for a baby brother or sister as a kid. God answered that prayer in a miraculous way when my brother Paul was born in 1991, despite some very challenging circumstances surrounding my mom’s pregnancy (I wrote about this experience back in November). 21 years later, one of the great blessings in my life is the relationship I have with my brother, and hearing about Siblings Day caused me to reflect on the treasured gift of brothers and sisters.
What’s so great about siblings? Here are five things that come to mind:
1) Siblings keep life interesting and help you constantly grow as a person.
Over the years, my relationship with my brother Paul has evolved from me helping raise him when he was little, to us being classmates in homeschool studying history together, to us being rivals fighting over who would sit in the front seat on car rides, to now us being friends (I think) and enjoying meaningful activities and engaging in deep discussions together (though I’m still waiting for him to accept my friend request on Facebook)!
While I’m crazy about my big little brother, I’m not always sure the feeling is mutual. Paul loves to quote cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, who famously said, “Big sisters are the crab grass in the lawn of life.” Ouch! I prefer to quote Lucy Gibney, who tweeted on Siblings Day: “In the cookies of life, siblings are the chocolate chips.”
2) Siblings make (almost) everything more fun.
Having brothers or sisters around can make even the most mundane activities interesting. No matter where we go as a family, Paul is always ready to provide hilarious commentary on the people and places involved. Even after all these years, no one makes me laugh more than my little brother and nothing makes me smile as much as him saying, “Sister sib, wanna hang out?”
Several of my friends have multiple kids, and I love watching them interact with each other as they face life’s joys and challenges. Some of the funniest stories and sweetest pictures involve young brothers and sisters trying to figure out life together.
3) Siblings teach you random things you would otherwise have no interest in or knowledge of.
If you have a brother or a sister, chances are you’ve been forced to learn about certain areas or aspects of life that you would otherwise have nothing to do with. In my case, Paul has taught me more about everything from Star Wars and Taylor Swift to Heavy Metal and Guitar Hero than I ever thought I’d care to know… and I’ve learned a lot of deep things from him as well (not to say that Taylor Swift isn’t deep… haha).
In the case of our newest SixSeeds blogger Bristol Palin, of course, her precious brother Trig is teaching her about the world of Down Syndrome and he’s given her a passion to celebrate all the special children among us!
4) Siblings help keep you humble.
Brothers and sisters don’t let you get away with anything. They know your weaknesses, they witness your embarrassing moments, and they don’t let you become overly confident with the compliments and accolades of others. My brother is as brutally honest with me as he is witty and sharp, and he’s always quick to remind me of the many areas in life I need to work on.
On Easter weekend we went on a late evening grocery shopping trip, and Paul said he would cook dinner for us that night. “You are so kind to do that for me,” I said. “It’s mainly that I really don’t trust you to cook,” he responded. “I know you can’t.” Sadly, he was right.
5) Siblings are a precious gift from God and should never be taken for granted.
I’ve shared some funny and light-hearted examples of why I’m thankful to have a sibling, but the truth is that we should never take the gift of brothers and sisters for granted. Indeed, in some countries and cultures, siblings are discouraged or even illegal.
For example, What She Said writer Anna Quinn wrote a gripping piece on China’s one-child policy titled “Once Upon a Time” earlier this year:
I once read a fairy tale about a land where no one had any extended family—no aunts, no uncles, no cousins. They did not even have brothers or sisters. The evil prince had outlawed siblings because he did not think he got his fair share of things when he was a child.
If anyone tried to have a family with siblings, they were threatened with sterilization, the destruction of their homes, abortion, and death.
Of course, I did not read a fairy tale, but instead I read this article about the recent “facelift” to China’s one-child policy.
As we celebrate our own siblings and give thanks for the gift of family, let us remember those in China who face such brutal violations to their basic human rights.
And next time your kids start fighting over who gets to sit in the front seat or who got a bigger ice cream scoop, be grateful that you have the opportunity to raise multiple children… and trust that the raucous sibling rivalry will one day develop into the closest of friendships.