Sparkling Repartee

It’s my sister’s birthday again—not that she’s getting old at a ridiculous rate, but rather that I have three sisters, so their birthdays occur with a certain frequency, since we all have different birthdays despite people’s occasionally mistaking two or more of us for same-day siblings. While we are separated by gaps, there are enough commonalities in our selves and our looks, I suppose, that it’s not entirely shocking anyone might make such an assumption, but those who know us see the vast array of differences more sharply than the less informed might.

And that, my friends, that differentness, is a grand thing. I adore all three of my sisters and love that we have enough in common to be real friends as well as family to each other, but we are clearly the better for having our unique characteristics and points of view and experiences to further enrich our life in common. It’s those distinctions that keep us from being in any way interchangeable and certainly, from having nothing to talk about when we get the all-too-rare chance to visit. We’re all four fabulous, if you ask me!

Take Sister #3, for example, whose natal day we remember on this date (I’m second of the four). From when she was very small—and she was mighty tiny indeed—her fierce drive for perfection and her native and highly honed intellect awed me. She ‘gets’ things that I will never wrap my head around, things like mathematics and the myriad business-administrative powers that keep the machinery of life and work and family ticking along in ways that only happen to me by lucky accident. She is and was the athlete and outdoorswoman I could only dream of being, and her cookery and baking, frankly, kick my measly skills to the curb. And she’s beautiful, inside and out, even if as a typical sibling I didn’t always manage to remind her so as often as she deserves.

That’s all just for starters, but if I were to go on too far I’d sound like I was making her up out of fairy wings and dewdrops and cookie dough, so instead I shall just wish her a spectacular birthday and a year full of wonder and happiness, beginning to end and for many birthdays and years to come.
digital illustration from a photoSpirited Pleasure

Let us raise a crystal glass of Champagne Brut to toast the passing

Of the weeks and months, the years, to raise resounding shouts of “Cheers!”

We’ll ping the flutes “Salut! Cin Cin!“, tip up the stems and drink it in,

For nothing makes it taste so great as bubbly wine to celebrate

(Though if you care not for its pop, I recommend a Lemon Drop)!

Only a Dreamscape will Do

It’s my big sister’s birthday. Granted that she’s already gotten to have more of them than I have, I still wish her masses more birthdays, and not just so she’ll set a good example for me to follow. She’s done that all along, and though I’ve been imperfect at best in living up to her fabulosity and smartitude and funny-tations and whatnot, I’m still counting on her to continue the kindly gesture for ages to come. Having an older sister like her is like going to see a pretty view of the landscape and discovering that all the landscapes along the way are connected into an equally pretty, endlessly inviting prospect full of breezes, candy floss clouds, sunlight, streams, and sweet wildflowers. If I could give her all of this as a birthday gift, it might suffice.photo montageShe’s no billionaire, but she seems to know how to live well and build happiness around her remarkably well, so unless I come into billions myself I might have trouble finding her a gift that’ll knock her socks off properly. Guess I’ll have to settle for loving her to pieces (all of them, hopefully, remaining firmly attached to each other as they should be), admiring her immensely (and that’s not a crack about my weight, wink-wink), and giving her the same old big, shiny nothing that I give her every year (though it’s always tied up with a massive bow of plots for sisterly laughter), wrapped up in good wishes and the promise of a paltry but delicious dinner in her honor when I finally get to see her again. The requisite amount of good chocolate included, of course.

Happy Birthday! Encore, encore!

Most Wonderful Time of the Year *

* You may think I’m warming up for my big Christmas caroling solo, but I’m not planning to torture anyone with that, just rejoicing in the anniversary of my #1 sibling’s birth. Happy Birthday, big sister!

photoYour kid sister is mighty happy to celebrate your birth for more reasons than I can begin to count. Nah, let’s go ahead and enumerate awhile.

For starters, there’s the plain friendship and sisterly guidance that have kept me centered, contented and with my head above water and showed me wonderfully how a life of excellence could be lived. There’s your being a fabulous traveling companion throughout not only life but also the world, from our expedition to Europe during our college days to places in the US as exotic as any overseas, and of course in our own hometown. There’s the delight of daily conversation, movie-watching, book-critiquing, dining out, opera-going, and many other kinds of adventures or occasionally misadventures, not all of the latter strictly of my own making, but some of them weirdly wonderful, hilarious and memorable all the same.

photoNow that I, along with flocks of cormorants this winter, have come to roost in Texas, it’s a long way from where you live and I don’t get to see you and give you squishy, ridiculously big hugs to celebrate the day, so I’ll greet you via phone, email, and blog. I’ll wish you a day of great happiness and many, many more to come. And I’ll thank you for all of the loveliness you’ve brought, and continue to bring, to my life.

This year especially, your birthday is not only a most wonderful time, but truly THE most wonderful time. Your birthday is clearly the first day of the rest of our lives for everybody, since apparently the world did not end. So glad the Mayans‘ message was just misread by all the doomsayers, because I look forward to a marvelous 2013 enjoying the marvelous wonderfulness that is my older sister–and many more such years ahead.

There is Not Enough Chocolate in the World

photo collage

This is the anniversary of one of the truly important days in world history. No, I’m not as confused as you think. (Not in that way, anyhow.) I’m not referring to Christmas and getting the date all wrong (nor Hanukkah or Ramadan or Eid or the Chinese New Year or Samhain and getting the date that much wrong-er). December the twenty-second is, in fact, the anniversary of the birth of my Number One Sister. And that is a very big deal.

Believe me when I tell you that there are not enough superlatives in the world to describe how fortunate I feel to have followed in her footsteps, even if I make up really cool sounding words for the occasion.

My big sister paved the way for me. She test-drove our parents through child-rearing for nearly a full two years before entrusting little me to their care–and hers. She trained them in the ways of infants and toddlers admirably, and continued to lead the way right through our developmental (emphasis on the last two syllables) years, both for the parental party and for her pesky little sister. Why, in fact, she didn’t “accidentally” lose me, sell me to a traveling circus or bump me off on certain occasions remains a complete mystery.

Instead, she was a great playmate and co-conspirator. She was both a good enough student to set up positive expectations of the family lineage when I followed her into her former teachers’ lairs and also enough of a strong-minded individualist that they dared not assume we should be compared–thank goodness, as not only were we always distinct in our personalities and tastes but she was easily a more natural scholar than I was and I’d have drowned in those expectations. And she was Firstborn enough to assert her right to test all boundaries and, occasionally, the parental patience, just enough to make my follow-up look that one necessary shade paler by comparison. That’s us in succinct terms, one might say: I’m pretty good at life’s tasks in general–learning, adventuring, inventing, enjoying–and she’s always a notch more substantively and colorfully so. The great thing from my perspective is that I never felt this as a shortcoming on my part but rather that I’ve lived in the presence of a fine example of levels to which I can aspire. I am working on it.

Meanwhile, back in the land of sisterhood, I have this amazing friend who was waiting for me the day I showed up for my first public appearance and has embraced, cajoled, guided, teased, taught, humored, chastised and entertained me ever since. The exemplar of Big-Sisterhood. One I can say anything to and ask anything of, and she still loves me. Even when I’ve been utterly unlikable (I know, it’s hard to believe I’ve ever been a stinker, isn’t it!), she’s stuck by my side. Or at least waited somewhere backstage to reclaim me when I finished my big scene.

Now, I won’t immerse you in treacly lies and say that I think anyone is perfect, not even my sisters, as fabulous as they all are, but I wouldn’t dream of changing a thing. When I showed up on the scene I was immediately gifted with a built-in mentor and companion, and that has never altered. So when I say Happy Birthday to my big sister, it’s always doubled by my sense of having received her as my own first birthday present too.

From that point forward, she has been coaching me in all of those skills and arts most meaningful in living a full life: curiosity, assertion of self, living by one’s convictions, passion for those people and things that matter, playfulness, generosity and a good appreciation of the ridiculous. She taught me, more than anybody else, how to laugh until my face aches and my lungs are bursting and tears are shooting out of my eyes as though I’d had a squirt-gun transplant. And she taught me the proper respectful adulation of all-things-chocolate.

How’s that for a long way of saying there aren’t enough words! But you know what I mean, especially if you have been lucky enough to have a sibling (let alone three) so worthy of hyperbolic paeans. Yes, I think it’s grand that all of those other marvelous and perhaps more widely recognized holidays and celebrations are right ahead, but I have every reason to celebrate this date with elation and a great deal of gratitude, so if you feel like raising a toast or hugging your sister or setting off some nice fireworks or sending my sister a chocolate cake (with chocolate filling and chocolate frosting and hot chocolate on the side) or anything, feel free to join right in and consider this a very worthy day for such things. Happy Twenty-second of December!digitally enhanced photo