Written during the 4 week of Advent, before Christmas and the puking AND me figuring out some technical difficulties. But it’s too good of a memory not to keep so Throwback Thursday it is!

We’ve long held and believed that the greatest gift we can give our children is a sibling. Often, we are thinking of the benefit that a younger child will be to an older kid and that is certainly true. Babies are good for teenage boys.

But it works the other way, too.  Little ones reap all sorts of benefits from “big” siblings.  Older siblings that roughhouse and teach fun words and pass on hand me downs.  Teenage boys are good for babies.

It’s strange, too.  I have a hard time swallowing that Max will be thirty – THREE OH!- when Gus is the age Max is now.  Just tonight, the three eldest (and Gus because babies keep the same hours as teens,) were laughing and giggling about how receiving communion can be awkward.  It came about because Gemma is in active preparation for her first communion.  This led to reminiscing about their first times and I found myself doing the math for where we’d all be when Gus makes his. Max will be 22!  Will he be in seminary or show up with a girlfriend or wife? Teenage and baby boys are hard on moms.

This last week, it’s been Lucy who has latched on to her eldest brother. She drapes herself over him, wheedles her way onto his lap, and asks to be carried.  The ten-year difference seems like nothing to me as it seems like just yesterday Max was her age. And yet to Lu, he is so big and old and strong, a giant in size and character. And Max is patient and generous and pours into her.

Last night we watched Charlie Brown’s Christmas and as I folded laundry upstairs, thankful for a few minutes of silence, I heard the whole lot of them laughing together downstairs and I was filled with awe.  Awe that the teenagers didn’t think anything of watching the cartoon with the crowd.  Their joy was contagious and I made my way to sit in their midst and soak up the hard-to-come by camaraderie.  They continued to laugh and point out their favorite parts, really sharing the experience. Then it was time to head upstairs.  Lu threw herslef across Max’s legs and asked to be carried. She repeated the request. After a few minutes of this, Max cupped her face in his hands.  She breathlessly looked up at him, eager and expectant.

“You’re a dork.” Max said to her warmly.

Lucy was the first to laugh.  She tried to get out a thought amid peals of giggles.

“I thought,” she gasped, “I thought you were going to say ‘You’re adorable!'”

We all laughed and laughed and Max did carry her upstairs. When it came time to reflect on moments of sacrifice throughout the day, Lu plucked a straw from the jar and placing it in the manger said, “Max carried me upstairs.” She gave him a look of adoration then flung herself at him again and he caught her with open arms.

I’ll say it again, siblings are the greatest gift.