Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

The definition of a sibling according to the Oxford Dictionary is “each of two or more children or offspring having one or both parents in common; a brother or sister”.

So technically I have one sibling and basically a lot of cousins. I grew up in a house of thirteen and at one point it grew to seventeen until the age of six. I know in this day and age it sounds bizarre but when I look back I loved it. One of my best memories is a Sunday morning and us using the bathtub to stand around and brush our teeth.

Now don’t get me wrong we fought like all families; apparently I was the scratcher and am often reminded of the time I punched my older “sister’s” front two teeth out or the time my “brother” ran a car through the same sister’s hair and it got stuck which unfortunately meant the kitchen scissors had to make an appearance but the important thing is we had each other’s backs. That same sister is the one who confronted the girl who thought it was funny to pick on me at high school because I wore glasses.

And now we have all grown up and have families and children of our own but that bond hasn’t changed. In fact it’s grown because we have brother and sister’s in law because let’s face it cousin in law just doesn’t sound right.

Like the opening of Little Women Christmas is always a special time for us because it’s the opportunity to pile into one house and be that family again and hopefully instill into our children what was instilled into us. Yes we still argue usually because we have had too much to drink and then decide to play The Logo game but we always laugh about it the next day.

As I read Little Women again I often wonder which sister I am like. Meg; who was described as having a “sweet and pious nature”. Beth the quiet sister of the family who disliked confrontation; Amy the baby of the family or Jo. Wild, unruly Jo who throughout the book you can’t help but fall in love with for her determination and courage. Personally I think there is little part of Jo in all of us. One thing is for sure though; without her sisters Jo wouldn’t be half the woman she was. Without the respect and admiration she had for Meg which meant she obeyed her. Beth who kept her calm and even Amy who destroyed her book by burning it they were a family and they were sisters through every up and down. This family like mine have laughed together and cried together. They lost a sister, as did we and that is a heartbreak that never leaves you. They rallied around when there were struggles on the horizon and relished in each other’s happiness because in my eyes and in the eyes of the March sisters this is what families do.

So I guess the thing is it doesn’t matter if you are siblings in the official term or siblings because in your heart that is what they are what matters is the steps you take together, the memories you make together and the hurdles you overcome together.

“To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sister. We know each other as we always were. We know each other’s hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family griefs and joys. We live outside the touch of time.” Clara Ortega

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