The Siblings Only Dinner

Tonight, I joined my two brothers for our annual post-Thanksgiving tradition. We’re not sure when it started, but we’re pretty sure it was triggered by my international assignment or my grandmother passing away. One of my brothers was able to rattle off eight restaurants we’ve eaten at so we are pretty sure it has been at least eight years. We call it “siblings only dinner.”

Which of course is a misnomer. Sometimes we have breakfast.

Anyway, eight years ago (give or take) I noticed a pattern. Whenever I saw my brothers, we were surrounded by people and we rarely had moments of quiet connection. And that was hard because I’ve always been close to my brothers. We share the same DNA source code and had the same experiences growing up, but more importantly I really value them as people. So when I noticed that we were only able to get to the ‘hey how’s the job?’ depth of conversation, I decided that wasn’t going to work. So, I made a proposition.

One night, once a year. A couple of hours away from your spouse and kids. Just a little bit of time to remember where it all started and to stay connected. Siblings only.

That first year involved a bit of negotiating. Our significant others wanted to know why they weren’t invited. Our kids wanted to know why they couldn’t come. People had to work. Others were traveling. I got creative and leaned in. We made it work.

We’ve made it work every year since.

It hasn’t always been easy. One year I had the flu so bad I barely remember eating anything. Another year the only day we could make work was the Friday after Thanksgiving and one of my brothers had to work — we met him during his lunch hour. We’ve done late breakfasts and early dinners — we’ve met within minutes of our homes and driven two hours one way. 

We just make it work.

We do it because it’s important to each of us that we stay connected. We want to make sure that when the bumps and bruises of life hit us that we are resilient and capable of responding not just individually but as a team. We want to know that we have the kind of relationship to weather the things that we will know will happen someday — including loss and heartache. I want them to know I will be there for them, just like they want me to know they will be there for me.

The most interesting thing is that as much as we have in common, and as much as I feel like I know everything I could know about them, they still have the power to surprise me. They have been part of my life since the day of their birth and I don’t know everything yet. We still have new stories to share.

And in 364 days, we’ll share some more.

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Middle-aged business exec who had aspirations of being a writer someday. I believe that lifting people up through authentic and vulnerable storytelling creates connection and possibility. My story may not be the most inspiring, but it is the one I know the best and have the right to share.

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