A conversation from Christmas Eve.
Big Brother: "I drove by the old house today."
Me: "uh huh."
Big Bro: "Erin, you might want to sit down, I have some news for you."
Me: (perplexed) "okay."
Big Bro: (pauses dramatically) "They chopped down your home. Your family has been displaced. I don't know if we'll ever regain contact with them. I'm sorry."
The biggest running joke. This all stems from when I was maybe five years old, and my brother convinced me I was not actually his sister.
My mother had started school again and my brother had a regular babysitting gig with me. We lived in a house that had a large picture window in the living room that gave an excellent view of an ancient tree across the street, which had a large empty space at the base. We were inside, and bored senseless.
Big bro: (looking out the window) "You know, days like this remind me of the day Mom found you."
Big bro: (a look of horror washes over his face.) "Oh no, I wasn't suppose to tell."
Me: (anxious) "Tell what? Oh please tell me!"
Big bro: "Well...okay, but you have to swear not to tell Mom. Do you swear?"
Me: "Oh yes, I swear not to tell Mom."
Big bro: "Okay then...You know, you're not ACTUALLY my sister. You see, when you were a baby, you lived in the tree across the street."
(Both look out the window at the tree across the street.)
"Mom looked out the window one morning and saw you as a baby in that empty space in the tree. She took pity on you, and brought you home."
Me: (disbelieving, and a little smug) "No way. babies need lots of care. I couldn't have lived in the tree by myself."
Big bro: "But Erin, you weren't alone. Don't you see? You lived with the squirrels. They took care of you, but Mom didn't think that was right and brought you home. Boy, did THEY get mad."
Big bro: "The squirrels. They were mad. They wanted you back. We had to pay them off...Still do."
Me: "What do you mean?"
Big bro: "Well, you know how everytime Grandpa comes to visit, he brings a big bag of peanuts and feeds the peanuts to the squirrels? That's all part of the agreement."
Me: (eyes wide, because it's all starting to make sense) "I'm asking Mom when she gets home."
Big bro: "Oh no, Erin! Don't do that! Mom will get mad that I told and she'll send you back to live with the squirrels!" (looks again at the tree.) "I don't think you can fit anymore."
So, I never told. I'm not sure when I stopped believing this, but I know it was long before I told my mom about it when I was 13.
Mom was living in Florida, and I was down for a visit. We were driving back from the grocery store, and stopped at traffic light. I was staring out the window, and came upon an ancient looking tree with a big empty space at the base. I remembered the story and just erupted in laughter.
My Mom wanted to know what the heck was so funny, so I told her the whole story. I expected her to laugh. She didn't. When we got home she went straight inside and dialed up my brother. When he answered the phone she started yelling at him.
Big bro was obviously very confused as to why his mother is calling from a thousand miles away to yell at him...and then he pieced it together...and just busted out laughing. Then Mom realized she was attempting to yell at Big bro for something he did like 8 years ago, and starts laughing at the absurdity of it all.
It's been a running joke ever since.