24 Dec

A Christmas Present to my Sister

I can remember the morning our parents brought you home.  I ran outside, the sidewalk was wet from rain, and jumped up and down on the top step of the porch as mom carried you, swaddled in a yellow afghan, into the house.  I looked down at you, examined you to make sure you had ten fingers and toes; I kissed your cheek and welcomed you not only into the house but also into my heart.

For days, I would stand on a chair next to your crib and watch you sleep.  If you cried, I would pop the pacifier in your mouth or pat your stomach until you drifted off again.  I would help mom bathe you and change your diapers.  At some point, I would resent your intrusion on my life, but not during those first few months.  I was in love with the idea of a baby sister and you were mine just as much as mom’s to take care of.

Over the years, I took my job as big sister very seriously.  We had our moments of war, and then peace as we played and sought comfort from whatever was happening in our household with each other.  You were a pest in the highest degree, and I am still bitter over you throwing away my hundred crayons set and writing on my baby doll.  You loved to smear your face with food and gross me out at the table.  There were bugs exoskeletons you hung on my sweaters and sucking the oxygen from the backseat as we went on long car rides.  Yet, you were my first audience, the one I cared about entertaining the most.

We would lie in our beds at night, sharing the same room for what seemed like twenty years, and I would tell you stories.  Making you laugh was always my goal and you had the best of them all.  In you, I found a respite from any pain from my childhood.  I would make up wild tales and you would demand more and more.  We even shared the same imaginary friend.

I wanted to protect you from the harsh realities, and sometimes I succeeded.  I would tiptoe to your bed at night, and put my finger under your nose making sure you were still breathing.  The thought of losing you, was unbearable to me.  You were my other half, and I would never be whole without you.

There were times I let you down.  Times I let myself down.  I left you when you were still barely a teenager and went off on my own.  Mom would call me nightly to talk to you about your behavior.  Maybe you felt I abandoned you.  I tried to bring you along with me, but at some point, our lives veered off in different directions.  We were both grown, both moving on with marrying and starting families.  We did not always see eye to eye on everything.

I moved away and I thought we would drift apart.  We did momentarily, both so consumed by the choices we had made in our lives.  I missed important events.  I feel like I missed everything.  Yet, somehow, that bond we cannot explain and probably do not want to, kept us together.  I could call you, and you could tell from the sound of my voice exactly what I needed.  It was the same with you.  You were miles away, but you were always wherever I needed you.

Coming home again, I am amazed at how easily we fell back into the relationship we always had.  From the first embrace in the driveway because I could not wait for you to get into the house, we are what we always were.  Sister, best friends, each other’s sounding board and psychologist.  We are two halves of a whole and distance cannot erase what we have built together.

I am proud of you and the children you have raised.  I watch you in awe that the baby I stood over is now this woman.  We laugh a lot together, with our secret jokes and our silliness, excluding everyone else from our shared world.  We commiserate, rant, and rave and at the end of it all, we know we do not have to agree on everything.

From the minute you were home, I knew you would be one of the most important relationships in my life.  You make me a better me.  You have reminded me of who I once was, and I found her again.  All of those years being your substitute mother, prepared me for my own daughter.  I would not take back or erase a minute of our lives together, even the worst of times.

This Christmas is my first at home with you and your family in a long time.  I am happy we will be sitting at the table, laughing at each other’s antics, while everyone else looks puzzled at what is so funny.  Later tonight, one of us will call the other and we will talk about whatever happened, be it good or bad.  We will wish each other a Merry Christmas and for a moment, I will wish I could go back to when we were kids.

Christmas morning, before even the sun had risen, you would bounce on my bed, up since the night before so excited about Santa’s arrival.  You will beg and plead with me to get mom and dad up so we can open our presents.  We will drag them grumbling out of bed and we will sit on the floor in front of the tree while dad, always dad, passes out the presents.  The best part is that no matter what toy we have received, we will look at each other and say, “Let’s go play.”  Then we will scamper off together, making a blanket fort in the gap between our twin beds in our room, and spend the rest of the morning, until we are dragged from our fun for family obligations, playing together.

This Christmas, we will spend it playing with our kids, and we will appreciate and hold on to those moments as precious because we have seen how fleeting they can be.  We will know, that someday there will no longer be toys and blanket forts and make believe Barbie worlds.  Life moves so quickly and someday our children will have moved on just as we have.  Yet, it is always there isn’t it.  That wonderful memory that we share.

I can still look at you, even in adulthood, and say, “let’s go play” because you are even today, my best friend.  The one I want to share my toys with.  The one I want to share my pain with.  The one who understands me and all my complication.  We have the best gift of all.  Each other.



  1. webeasy2010 December 24, 2010 at 1:42 pm #

    I can tell you from experience— you never get too old to have a big sister.

  2. Diana December 26, 2010 at 11:47 am #

    You’ll always be my best friend, my sounding board, my audience for my comedy routines and the one person I know I can count on. Thank you for the best christmas gift i could get, you back in town. I love you sissy.

  3. Cold Dead Heart December 26, 2010 at 12:02 pm #

    awwww that made me sniffle…love you too

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