My sister Ana called the other day, just to tell me how happy she is that I'm in her life.
I'm a little strange when it comes to feelings, emotions, and dairy products, but I know enough to react appropriately when really nice things are said to me. We had a great talk, beginning with me telling her that I too was happy that she and my brother Jose and all their family members were in my life. Then I told her I wasn't sure how to be a brother specifically or a family member in general.
For those of you with siblings, this might seem odd--it's all you've known. No cry for help here, it's just natural that if I was an only child raised by a single Mom, with the nearest relatives in California or England, intra-family training was limited.
I have had role models all my life; it seems rare to be an only kid with a single parent, so my friends along the way have all had brothers and sisters. When I started having girlfriends serious enough to risk inviting me to dinner and holidays, I got a dose of the large family stylings. Hell, before I knew any better, I wanted to marry an Italian girl, so I could be a part of those noisy, 100-yard-table feasts and get money in envelopes.
My wife has a sister; they get along like sisters--they call each other all the time and sometimes don't like each other, but always say I Love You. It's too late to follow their lead, mainly because they have a lifetime of history, while Ana and I and Jose barely know one another.
We have only good history, though, no complications or old battles. It doesn't feel fake to tell Ana I Love You (but I'll probably just verbally punch Jose in the arm); it's not that I should say it just because we had the same father, it just feels right. I think it helps that Ana is so nice.
Anyway, I guess I will try hard to remember all the new birthdays in my life (I'm one for two so far with Ana's family and still have to think a minute to get Carrie's and the twins' right), and call for no other reason than just to say hey. People like those things.
So, on this Thanksgiving Eve, I'm thankful for the family I've made with Carrie and the family I found and the family I was born into. I am happy that as I've seen happening every day, the kids in my house won't need lessons in family relations.
It is a daily jolt to me that an only child with one parent is now surrounded by children who have siblings and who have two parents who kiss a lot. I can't relate to how they are growing up, but boy am I glad they have each other, even when there's maiming.
Just like I feel that every time I roll around with them, wrestling, tickling, nibbling, that bonds are tightening--like being able to make cats people-friendly by handling them when they are kittens--their interaction is shaping them. They will be so scarred, I mean, close.
Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.