Every scar on your body has a story behind it. Every mark has a tale to tell. I have a scar in the small of my back just to the right of my spine; it’s about 2 ⅛″ (5.4 cm) long. Over the years I’ve had to fill out many forms that asked if I had any tattoos or scars; this one was always my identifying scar.

I was all of four years old and Christmas was near. My older brother Larry was playfully giving me a horsey-back ride. When he grew tired of romping around he dumped me off backward, aiming for a soft landing on our living room couch, but missed. I landed instead on an open tin of Christmas candy that had been left lying on the floor at the foot of the couch. In those days hard candies were often sold in a tin can similar to coffee and similarly opened with a twist-key, leaving a very sharp edge. The exposed edge of the can laid my back open. Bleeding profusely, I went into the kitchen and showed it to my mom who promptly fainted. Fortunately my Uncle Felix was visiting and stuffed a white towel down my pants to staunch the flow of blood. He put me in his car and took me to the (Johnston) Emergency Hospital. Cued by my uncle’s relative calm, on arrival I laid quietly on the examination table. Since the cut was on my back I asked if I could see it and someone gave me a small hand mirror. As viewed through the mirror, the skin rolled back and lay open in a smooth oval shape; the fatty tissue inside was snow-white. It looked to me like an enamel bathtub full of bright red blood. As he treated me the doctor remarked about how brave I was for not crying. I could feel the smart prick of the sewing needle and the tugging of the thread as it passed through my flesh, snugged up and tied off by the doctor, stitch by stitch (eight in all).

As I looked back on this incident the thing that stood out as particularly peculiar about it was this: why was my brother Larry, of all people, giving me, his kid brother, a horsey-back ride? If you have an older brother perhaps you’ll understand; it was, tellingly, a can of CHRISTMAS CANDY that had laid my back open.

Throughout the rest of the year he was rotten to me, with punches and poking, mocking and teasing and generally speaking, giving me, his kid brother, all manner of hell. Over the years I discerned a very clear pattern: he was always nicer to me in the run up to Christmas, – you see? I’ve also observed this same pattern of sibling behavior in other families as well; and it occurred to me that there existed a slack period in the relentless sibling rivalry; some kind of de facto ‘BE KIND TO YOUR KID BROTHER’ Week!

I’ve studied psychology and understand sibling rivalry, dominance and bullying. From my own personal experience I am fully cognizant of family dynamics and especially the onerous and frustrating social stigma of being labeled “The Baby of The Family”.

‘BE KIND TO YOUR KID BROTHER WEEK’ as an observable phenomenon is in all probability an aftereffect of repeated exposure to the admonishments contained within the lyrics of the now traditional (1934) holiday song: “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”

You better watch out!

Better not cry!

Better not pout!

I’m telling you why,

Santa Claus is comin’ to town.

He’s making a list

and checking it twice.

He’s going to find out who’s naughty and nice.

Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town.

He sees when you’re sleeping.

He knows when you’re awake.

He knows if you’ve been bad or good.

So be good for goodness sake!

You better watch out!

Better not cry!

Better not pout!

I’m telling you why,

Santa Claus is comin’ to town.

While not yet a legitimate national holiday, if we publicly celebrate it, perhaps in another three or four millennia we could stretch BE KIND TO YOUR KID BROTHER WEEK into a whole MONTH!

Merry Christmas to all and to all, a very Happy New Year.


About The Twentieth Man

Age 69
This entry was posted in Expository Writing, Humor, Personal History, Short Stories, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. National Be Kind to your Kid Brother Week has been rejected as a recognized holiday event by Chase’s Calendar of Events, but with vigorous promotion and popular support we could have it become an official national holiday. That’s up to you.

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