Sunday, January 20, 2013

When did I get old enough to have 20-year-old keepsakes?

Last week my mother and I spent some time looking through a tote filled with 20-year-old pictures and papers. My older sister has been wanting to get a lot of her stuff together into scrapbooks, so we were separating some of her elementary school memorabilia from mine. It actually wasn't too hard, seeing as the majority of the things we found belonged to her.

My memories from that particular tote consisted mainly of priceless artwork. This included the finest collection of traced-hand art this side of the Mississippi, a bear covered in coffee (texture is an important artistic element), a tissue-paper bluebonnet or two, and a lovely laminated silhouette of my 4-year-old self on yellow construction paper that I've tacked above the fireplace and have refused to let my parents remove. (As if they would even want to!)

My sister's collection had artwork, but also a bit more variety. The tote contained some of my pre-k papers, but seemed to have things of hers from about first through second grade. This meant progress reports, some certificates, typing ventures, and stories. One piece of paper stuck out to me in particular. It was a poorly spelled Christmas letter to Santa from my six-year-old sister.

We've already put it away, and I don't exactly remember it verbatim, but I do remember some highlights. My sister asserted that she had been good that year and wanted some little things like barrettes and a doll. And then she asked for another doll, for me. She said could she please have a doll for her sister, Tabitha, who was two. And could he please make it a plastic one so that her sister would not rip out the arms and legs. (I guess I was a fairly destructive two-year-old.) She went on to ask for a GoGo My Walking Pup, but the twin ones so that her sister, Tabitha, could have one two.

It was the kind of thing that made me laugh, but also kind of made my heart jump up into my throat a little bit. I looked at that letter and thought about someone who has been selflessly loving me and thinking of me my whole life. Someone has been loving me before I was probably really even old enough to understand the concept. Maybe my sister's age was the best time to understand love. And I'm really lucky and really blessed that that love has only grown. There really just isn't a love comparable to a sister's love.

I don't think I have a traditional "close" relationship with my sister. Or at least what I've picked up or interpreted from others. We never dished about boys or complained about our parents, and I don't ever really confide in her. Although, honestly, I don't really confide in a lot of people. I keep to myself a lot. Or have traditionally. But I know that my sister is always there when I need her. And I know that she is one of the few people who understands most of the crazy things that come out of my mouth. She is someone who can interpret the smallest movement or single word as a movie reference. She remembers with me. She believes in me. She brags about me. She loves me in spite of all my flaws, but never seems to recognize that I have them. I may not have a lot of experience with older sisters, but I'll venture to say she understands the job better than most. I know she's better at it than I am to our younger sister. It's probably a good thing that she can pick up my slack in that department.

Everyone should be so lucky as to have a sister. I was probably thinking about this tonight because I saw a sidebar ad for a GoGo My Walking pup, and it is becoming clear to me that I have to buy one for her. Maybe it's coming 21 years late, but I figure if your sister loves you enough to ask grab Santa's ear on your behalf when you have less than stellar communication skills, she pretty much deserves to get what she asks for.

I showed a picture of this to my dad and he told me that he didn't understand the appeal. I promptly reminded him that when my sister wanted it, she was six. I still don't think he got it. Of course, he was never a six-year-old girl.

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