Dodging raindrops, the six of us laughed as we ran up to the frozen custard counter. Whew! Thankfully we made it just in time, with only three minutes to spare before closing. Eating my mint chip custard was the perfect way to cap off a great date night of dinner, mini golf, and now dessert.
If memory served me right, it was a date to rank up high with the best. But surprisingly it wasn’t the activities or intimacy that made it such a blast. No, it was because we were out with Adam’s sister and her husband, and Adam’s brother and his girlfriend.
And boy did we have fun. We talked and laughed, and placed bets on our golf game. We told jokes, discussed future life plans and with clouds on the horizon spent 15 minutes debating whether or not mini golf was a good idea. We only made it through half the holes before the sky opened up, but still, it was money well spent.
As we drove home eating our custard, all of us piled into Adam’s mom’s SUV, we mentioned many times how fun the evening had been and said we couldn’t wait to do it again. The evening reminded me of one of the blessings of marriage: I don’t only gain a spouse on my wedding day, but also siblings. And when those siblings marry, more siblings.
But our triple date also reminded me of the importance to keep relationships with family strong. We told fabled family stories, caught up, got to know Robert’s girlfriend a bit more, and just plain enjoyed being together. We remembered things of the past and made memories for the future. The evening made our bond stronger.
I also recognized more clearly the ebb and flow of relationships in a family, especially those of siblings. I know as I grew up and went off to college there was a normal separation from my siblings as I explored new places, lived away from home and made new friends. It wasn’t a bad separation, just a natural one. When I was newly married it was difficult for my youngest brother to relate to my life and me to his as a college student. We still got along fine, just weren’t super close. But now that same brother is getting married this Friday and I’d say we’ve never been closer. He’s called me to chat about wedding budgets, buying a house, natural family planning classes, honeymoon ideas and more. My guess is that we’ll only grow closer when he and his new bride get pregnant and have kids – just like Adam and I have grown closer to his siblings once they’re married.
And what about the siblings who aren’t married? Well, we still find ways to connect and strengthen our bond with them. In fact, a few nights after our triple date a bunch of us went out with Adam’s 16-year-old brother to a restaurant and made some more memories. He couldn’t order a beer, of course, but he still had a lot of fun. We all did.
I wonder if as kids, between all the arguing and name-calling and pushing and shoving, if our parents ever thought we’d get to this place where we can appreciate our siblings? As I look at my kids now, and try to guide them through the typical growing pains of learning how to get along, I sure hope I can teach them the importance of family and of the bond of sisters and brothers so that someday they can have as much fun with each other as Adam and I did with his siblings that night.