By Barb Arland-Fye
“Relationships between brothers and sisters deepen with the passage of time,” Pope Francis observes in “The Joy of Love” (2016). “Growing up with brothers and sisters makes for a beautiful experience of caring for and helping one another.”
Perhaps that observation explains the flurry of endearing family photos and cartoons posted, pinned and tweeted on social media for National Siblings Day (April 10). The images and the captions accompanying them make the heart swell with fondness.
Siblings who are celebrities, dignitaries, ordinary people and even fictional characters (Charlie Brown and his little sister Sally Brown and the Ninja Turtles, for example) appear on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Siblings from the Diocese of Davenport posted photos, too. Even individuals who are an only child posted photos of a beloved friend or relative “who is the closest thing I have to a sibling!” as one woman said on Facebook.
Barry Gibb, the only surviving member of the Bee Gees music group, posted a photo of his brothers that reads: “Miss these guys.”
“Happiness is growing up together,” reads a Peanuts cartoon featuring Charlie Brown and Sally.
“BrooklynDad_Defiant” posted two photos, one of his sister and himself as young children and the second one of the siblings as adults. His caption: “Happy #NationalSiblingsDay to my Sis, and to everyone out there who holds them up when times are tough.”
The Virginia Beach Police Department posted a photo the day after National Siblings Day (I did, too). The caption read: “Here is a shout out to all who have siblings, and to recognize a pair of siblings that serve on the Virginia Beach Police Department. Master Police Officer Mike Geluso (left) and Sgt. John Geluso (right). Thank you for your service.”
The Gospel Starlights posted “Happy #NationalSiblingsDay2021 to all seven of us! God is good!!”
Like Barry Gibb, some other siblings posted photos with poignant captions that spoke of love and loss for a brother or sister who died, no matter how long ago.
Most, if not all of these posts, focus on fond memories, not the bickering that is inevitable growing up with siblings. In a column that appeared in last week’s Catholic Messenger, historian Tim Walch wrote, “Research has shown that we store more memories during our youth than at any other time in our lives. And as we age, we find those early memories more vivid and positive. Is it any surprise that Boomers made a hit of the television show, ‘Happy Days’?”
“Growing up with brothers and sisters makes for a beautiful experience of caring for and helping one another,” Pope Francis says. “It must be acknowledged that ‘having a brother or sister who loves you is a profound, precious and unique experience.’ Children do need to be patiently taught to treat one another as brothers and sisters. This training, at times, quite demanding, is a true school of socialization” (“The Joy of Love”).
Our parents put their heart and soul into training my siblings and me and we passed those lessons on to our own children. I chose to post on Facebook a photo of my brothers and me as young children because it reminds me of the years we have traveled, and the bond of love that endures.
(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at firstname.lastname@example.org)