On Christmas Eve, as I was entertaining my in-laws, my cell phone rang. It was my sister. What followed was an upsetting conversation that started with a surprising boyfriend break up and ended with "I have no where to go...where am I supposed to go? And it's Christmas..."
My answer? You're coming here.
My sister lives in Chicago. She is currently loving and enjoying life as a twenty-something in the city. I am in Pennsylvania. But when she called heartbroken, the answer was simple. I asked her if she was in her car, and when she told me she was I instructed her to drive to the airport. We'd figure it out from there.
And we did.
Hubby left for the airport on 3pm Christmas Eve to pick up my sister; I took the kids last minute shopping. My mother had sent her gifts to Chicago, which she brought with her on the plane. I gave my kids the important job of stocking stuffers, which they took very seriously. We stuffed that stocking with a "Bah-Humbug" Santa hat, beef jerky, a toothbrush, an Eeyore stuffed animal and many more goodies.
My sister arrived at 7pm Christmas Eve and was with her nieces and nephews to make cookies. I'm sure there is no better cure for heartbreak. Family tends to put everything in perspective, and little kids right the mind even faster.
All of this sister love got me thinking these past few weeks. When my sister was born, I was eight years old. I had enjoyed a long standing position as the only daughter, sandwiched in between four boys. My love for her was fleeting. Excitement for a new baby quickly turned to indifference.
She was kind of cramping my style. I never realized how much cramping there was until I went a tad off the teenager deep end and went to a session of therapy. The therapist asked simple questions about my family and home life, and I answered them all. With minutes left in our session, I mentioned a sister in a story I was telling.
The therapist paused, checked his notes, and looked at me. "You didn't mention a sister when you told me about your family...I think we may be onto something..."
I guess it was a long fall from the top of the pecking order. But a very necessary one. Even though it took probably 20 years for me to appreciate her, and another five to understand her (we're different birds) I'm so very grateful I have her. I spent years annoyed that she never had to watch younger siblings or clean bathrooms. By the time she came along, my mom was done with discipline and chores. She just kind of floated along, while I had memories of cleaning toilets and wiping toothpaste off sinks. Along with stealing my thunder, she had a totally different set of parents.
But they weren't necessarily better, just different. This resulted in two totally different women; one that is extremely laid back (her) and one that is a little more high strung (me). It's amazing how we compliment eachother now. We are just different enough to balance the crazy in both of us.
We both had to travel through our teens into adulthood to forge the bond we have now, and it was a worthwhile wait. When she calls, I answer. I can tell her anything, and my kids have an aunt that treats them like they are the coolest cats in town. They love it, and to know her love for them makes me love her more.
Relationships are complicated. Mine with my sister has proven this over and over again. I'm happy to announce to all parents currently concerned their daughters won't ever have a tight bond; it happens. Give it time. They may hate eachother now, but they'll need eachother one day.
They'll be so happy to have a sister, even if they wanted to smack her every day for years. I am proof of this. We drove eachother nuts for a solid 20 years before this happened: