Merry Christmas to My Baby Brother
Mark wasn't born my brother. In fact he didn't even come into my family until I was already grown and married and a mom myself living a drive down the turnpike away.
But come into our family he did, as a 14-year-old with a mischievious grin, an artist soul and a sometimes sad story that's only his to tell. I think we probably liked him a lot more at first than he liked us. Our clan can be a bit intimidating--at the time Mark came to live with my mom and dad, there were already lots of us. That happens in a five-kid family. We had always been THAT family: the ones piling clown-car style out of a small station wagon, the ones pushing tables together in a restaurant, the ones straggling in late to church with at least one kid crying and another (usually me) mad about her hair or outfit.
So here came Mark, used to kinda taking care of himself, into this wild, loud, opinionated, talking, talking, always talking crowd of a family. We didn't know how long he'd be with us and had, in fact, been told it was just temporary until the end of the school year.
But somehow, I just knew. He belonged. As if there was a place at the table, a spot in our hearts, a limb on the family tree that had been empty and waiting just for him.
And so here we are, something like 13 years and more spouses and loads more grandchildren later and Mark still belongs. He's one of us. He doesn't usually talk as much as the rest of us but he speaks love eloquently with his hands and with his life. He plays with the nieces and nephews and he comes over just to fix things and he buys Mom and Dad a fridge for Christmas and he gets married and lets me be his wedding planner and he sometimes (though not often enough) paints and sculpts and collages and builds.
And then this Christmas comes, and I draw his name and my task is to tell him how I feel about him.
That's easy. I love him. He's my brother.