Let's Talk with Maggie Toussaint

June 22 and siblings

June 22, 2023

In my family, June 22 is the day after two back-to-back family birthdays. We are normally sunburned, full of cookout food, and banking another fine set of sibling memories. This year my brother won’t make it home until early July, so it will be a solo birthday for my sister. She won’t want a big to-do since it’s just her.

As a child whose birthday is in December, I was always conscious of having to share my birthday month with Christmas. I would get one present for my birthday and the “rest” for Christmas. I didn’t like sharing with Christmas. I wished Christmas would move to another month because December was mine, but that never happened.

But my brother and this sister have always been like two peas in a pod, born ten years apart. They love boating, cooking, and our small hometown. They even get along in silence drinking their morning coffee.

My two oldest sisters, now deceased, had birthdays in January and February and didn’t have to share with each other, to my knowledge. But Carol (February birthday and pictured, left) always remembered every slight, every hurt. I never thought I was like that until I remembered about Christmas cutting into my birthday loot. I got mad at Christmas every year when it was my birthday, but it’s impossible to be mad at a holiday for long.

One day long ago, Carol and I were involved in a very unladylike pastime of spitting off the dock. She did a pretty good one, so I tried and barely hit the same mark in the water. Her irritation flared immediately. “That’s my spot,” she said. “Get your own.” So I did, but for the record, neither one of us were very good spitters.

My oldest sister Cathy was the rock of her family, always doing for everyone, and she was that way as an older sister. She married into another family of boatsmen, and she went on many nautical adventures. Here’s a pic of her 25-35-ish. She and I were the red heads of the family.

Anyway, all of this going down memory lane is so that you appreciate the personality difference in the fraternal twins, Sage and Tabby Winslow, in the A Magic Candle Shop Mystery series, which I write as Valona Jones. These twins share June 30 as their birthday.

Sage never forgets a slight and will call people out on something they did to her twenty years ago. Tabby radiates sunshine and good vibes. Sage thinks her twin is entirely too forgiving. Tabby thinks Sage shouldn’t hold all that anger inside because life’s too short to be miserable.

While most readers are okay with the twins’ different personalities, a few commented that they wished Sage were nicer and that Tabby had her act together a little more in book one, SNUFFED OUT. My response is that these flawed characters will have quite a character arc.

One thing that gets lost in the translation of today’s world of instant gratification is that some people are broken, through no fault of their own. Phrased differently, real life isn’t tidy like a TV program or a movie where everything wraps up in a neat bow at the end.

Although some are better at hiding character flaws than others, everybody has an issue they’re dealing with. The same is true for these fictional Winslow twins.

They start out in book one of the series at the point of change. Tabby needs to unlock her energetic powers (being able to share energy) to help a friend in trouble. Sage needs to get over her codependence on her twin’s energy sharing. By the end of book one, some improvements in personality traits have occurred. More growth happens in each book of the series. Best of all, despite their differences, these twins stick together through good times and bad because family matters most.

Do you have siblings (or cousins) that you get into squabbles with when you go home? Why does sibling rivalry cut right to our core? Leave a reply in the comments section below for a chance to win an ARC of IN THE WICK OF TIME. (Print ARC will be mailed to a US mailing address.) The winner will be announced on June 28.

By the way, today, June 22 is the LAST Day of our Booklover’s Bench June contest entry period. One winner will receive two books. More info HERE.

Would you like to know more about author Maggie Toussaint? Visit her WEBSITE or the Valona Jones WEBSITE.

Posted in Let's Talk, with Maggie Toussaint • Tags: , , , |  43 Comments


43 thoughts on “June 22 and siblings

  1. My 3 brothers and 1 sister all get along as long as we don’t talk politics. So that’s a off limits topic unless it’s a joke but try to stay away from those too. When we were younger my sister and I fought all the time but now we get along great. Thank you for this chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com

    1. It’s hard to talk about politics these days without people getting bent out of shape. Maybe it was always that way, but in the last ten or so years, I’ve really noticed a polarization on this topic. Also, it seems an interesting aside that everyone has their own version of the truth and several points to justify their belief. In any event, it is wise to avoid this topic with relatives and close friends! Good luck in the drawing.

  2. I don’t squabble much with my older brother, but we are very similar. We sometimes don’t agree with each others life choices, but we are always there to support each other if something goes wrong.

  3. We never had this problem because my only brother is eleven years older. He was always very protective of me and took good care of me.

    1. Oh Carol, I always wanted an older brother! I remember telling my mom when I was very young that I wanted an older brother, not a younger brother. She laughed and said it didn’t work that way. Her answer was meant to be humorous but I had no understanding of the birds and the bees at that time so it left me very puzzled. I tried to honestly answer all of my kids’ questions, even the hard ones. So glad your older brother did such a good job of looking out for you. All three of my sisters did a great job of looking out for me and teaching me things I needed to know.

  4. Maggie, nice look at character arc and the real life issues of sibling rivalry. There are five of us, and I think our parents were from the “survival of the fittest” school of parenting because we never really learned the concept of teamwork as kids. As adults, 4 of the 5 are pretty tight. My one brother kind of does his own thing with his family, and while we miss him participating with us, that’s his right. He’s very “Sage-ish” in holding grudges. 🙂

    1. Hey Diane- another similarity between us (5 kids in family, 4 girls and 1 boy)! As I’ve become somewhat wiser over the years, I’ve learned it’s nearly impossible to change someone’s personality. At best you might modify a behavior with the right influence, but the only way to “change” anyone else is to change ourselves or our perception of them. Not quite live and let live but close.

  5. My only sister and I fought like wildcats until we left home to marry. Then the trials of motherhood raising four boys between us created a bond that is still strong today. We don’t always agree, but we can talk about anything.

    1. Wildcats, eh? Never would’ve guessed as your personality has always seemed very Zen to me. I’m so happy for you that you and your sister bonded through motherhood. That’s the best time to have a sibling lifeline. My last sister standing is also someone I can still talk to about anything.

  6. My brother and I are currently living close together (for almost 2 years, though after more than 20 years of being on opposite sides of the country). I can’t speak for him; however, I sometimes feel old triggers pop up – from times in childhood when I felt he got “more” or “better.” Fortunately, we tend to get along well most of the time, so the triggers aren’t a real issue 😊

    1. Hi Maria, I certainly understand about triggers that crop up years later. Why do we have such a good memory of the real and alleged slights? It’s a mystery to me.

  7. Hi, I have 3 older brothers and 2 younger sisters, when we were young and growing up yes, there were some squabbles, my parents especially our dad always told us to take care of each other and we all did. Now that we are all much, much older, I am 68 we all have gotten much much closer, both are parents are gone, so as siblings we just have each other. We all have our own little families but we are all pretty close. Have a great day. Your book sounds so very , very good. And I agree everybody has their own personality, we just need to get along especially with our siblings.

    1. Hey Alicia, I’m glad your siblings can still hear your father’s voice and have followed up by looking after each other.

  8. In recent years we seem to get together only for funerals. We were all of us in Texas except for my older brother who lives in Colorado. But since Mom died he hasn’t visited. Now I’ve moved to Virginia and getting together will be harder. I’m in daily touch with my little brother and remaining sister but rarely hear from big brother. Too bad because we used to be close.

    1. Hi Pat, I understand the inner distance that living far apart can bring. I enjoy hanging out with my siblings and wish we had always made it a practice to get together. It’s amazing how we come full circle in the game of life.

  9. My, oh my, siblings stir up so much in all of us, Maggie. I figure it’s so even for single children who didn’t have any. The same generally goes for birthdays, although, of course, we all have one of those ( ;
    What I mean is that our birthdays are important to us, especially as children. My birthday is only a few days before Christmas and I, too, hated sharing with the biggest present-getting holiday of the year. You are the only other person I’ve heard voice that gripe. I wonder, did you grow out of it too?

    1. Hi Pamela! And a not-so-secret handshake of the December Birthday gals. I did grow out of my bad thoughts about Christmas stealing all my thunder. It happened one year when I was watching my kids rip wrapping paper off Cabbage Patch dolls and shriek with joy. My in-laws were staying, and we all just beamed to see the kids enjoying the holiday so much. It sunk in that gifts are nice, but truly enjoying each other’s company is the best gift ever. Now I look forward to both my birthday and Christmas.

  10. Interesting piece. My sister and I are as different as night and day, but are devoted to each other in times of need. My children are a more interesting lab to observe: the twins, being fraternal, are close, but again night and day (but don’t you dare get between them or say something against one) — when the four kids get together, we always know which one is kind and impulsive, which two analyze the situation with one having a softer hand for communicating a plan of action than the other, and the one who drama follows. Birthdays have to be shared because two are a week apart and two born the same day. Now, throwing grandchildren into the mix, there’s even more overlap.

    1. Thanks for sharing about your children’s shared birthdays and personalities. Even though they grew up with overlapping birthdays it seems they didn’t get mad at any religious holidays like I did! Must have been their superlative parents. Enjoy those grandkids.

  11. I only have one sibling and she’s seven years younger than me. She lives in Michigan and I live in Illinois and we talk every day. Because of the age difference we didn’t do much together when we were younger, but now we get together as much as we can and take vacations together all the time. She’s my best friend as well as my Sister.

    1. It’s awesome that you and your sister are so close, Dianne. And how wonderful that you are also best friends.

  12. I’m a twin to my sister Shirley. She is the more strong willed twin. While I’m more laid back. We love each other unconditionally, but we have had our moments of disagreement too. Lol!
    Thank you for the chance to win your book!

    1. Hi Sherry. How cool that you are a twin. Your two names are so similar that it makes me wonder if anyone ever got tongue-tied calling your names, as in “Sherryley!” If so, did you break out in giggles? I would’ve. Good luck in the drawing.

  13. I am a twin and my twin and I are best friends. Our personalities, likes and dislikes are extremely similar so we rarely argue about anything. We always try to have each other’s backs. We have a brother who is 9 years younger than us. We used to fight with him some when we were little but we grew out of it and get along great now.

    1. It’s pretty amazing what a few years does to our perspective, isn’t it? I’m glad your brother is now part of our twin club. I have a feeling he always wanted to be part of the closeness you twins feel–and that might have made him seem a tad annoying as a youngster. Thanks for coming by and good luck in the drawing.

  14. I have one brother, but we’re isolated, both geographically and emotionally. We were never close as children (a long story, that one) and now that he lives on the other side of the country, we rarely talk. In the past,

    1. Hi Terry, I’m sorry to hear there’s so much distance between you and your sibling. I hope that doesn’t also mean feelings that never healed. I hope that you’ll reconcile one day.

  15. There is 4 of us. I am the oldest and our closeness to each other changes all the time. Mostly because we have misunderstandings between calls. My youngest sister is far away and she tends to be uncommunicative. My brother tends to change his thoughts depending on how he feels that day, hour, minute. Overall we do mostly get along. Thanks for this most interesting question.

    1. Hey Linda, thanks for stopping by the blog. Isn’t it funny how communication is so important? That’s one of the problems I see with emails and texts. People tend to fire off terse replies that can easily be misinterpreted. I’m guilty of that too. I’ve found what works for me is to ask for more information, and the longer the “conversation” goes, the more context I have.

  16. I only have one younger brother. We have never gotten along because he is bossy and always has to be right. (My Dad’s birthday was December 1st!)

    1. Hi Linda F, Your brother has a huge cross to bear. It is awful to know the right answer and keep it bottled up inside so he tells people the answer. My guess is that if everyone knew the supporting reasons and basis for his “pronouncements” he might seem less authoritative, but good luck with that! Your dad was a Sagittarius like me!

  17. When I was young I didn’t get along with my brother but since we are older my siblings and I get along fine.

    1. Hi Rita, Isn’t it wonderful how our perspective changes when we have our own places to live and our own struggles with life? I’m glad you and your brother found a way to go forward and now get along.

  18. How nice that you had such a big family. I only have one brother and we’re five years apart. I know what you mean about Christmas and birthdays. I was born on Thanksgiving Day, so my birthday celebration always gets sidelined for that holiday.

    1. Hey Nancy, Isn’t it interesting how that works? And that we should so keenly remember it after so many birthdays? My two closest siblings are 5 years older and 5 years younger. I wondered about the spacing as a kid, and it wasn’t until I was grown that I learned Mom had miscarried a baby before and after me. I’m lucky to be here!

  19. I really enjoyed this post, Maggie. It leaves me thinking about how people change. Having had the privilege of getting to know Sage and Tabby, I truly enjoy the way you have helped those two girls find out more about each other, and themselves, as their story progresses.

    I’m an only child. However, when a bad situation happened within the extended family, two of my cousins came to live with us. They stayed for quite a long time and then returned on and off for a number of years. One cousin was eight months younger than me, and we looked enough alike that, when out and about, people often asked my mother if we were twins. The rivalry was huge between us, there’s no doubt. He was spoiled by one of his own parents, who would bring fancy toys and then tell me I wasn’t allowed to play with them. Now, I realize it was probably a way for his parent to try and assuage their own guilt for having disrupted the kids’ lives. But then, it hurt. And he was a biter. That hurt, too! Despite the tension, we were thick as thieves as children, though grew apart later in life. Though we battled one another, should anyone else try to hurt one of us, the offending party had better watch out!

    Both of my “sibling-cousins” are gone now. Both died difficult deaths, way too young, and I think of them and miss them every day.

    Life truly is too short. I’m grateful for all the memories (even the bruises from his teeth), and will always sorrow that there are no more memories to create.

    1. Gayle, thanks for stopping in and I thank you for your kind words about my characters, Tabby and Sage. Your parents were so nice to take in your cousins when they needed a home. I’m sorry your cousin bit you-omg!-but I understand all the ups and downs as well as the push-and-pull of a dynamic like that. The one thing I don’t understand is why some people shoot through life like a comet and the rest of us keep going in spite of everything. It’s a mystery!

  20. Hi Maggie,

    Glad you are still actively writing. Your novels are always great reading. I regret to say I was an only child, much as I would have liked to have siblings.

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Jacquie. I enjoy writing novels, and I don’t know which I enjoy more: fleshing out the characters or thinking up all the trouble they get into!

  21. My younger sister and I are very close. She’s more outgoing than I am though. I wish we lived closer to one another.

    1. So glad you have a close relationship with your sister, Brenda. It’s nice to have that bond and to feel you’re not alone.

  22. My winner is Rita Wray. Congratulations, Rita, and thank you, everyone who replied to the post. I loved hearing about you and your siblings!

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