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The Best Big Sister Ever

is 30 years old today. And in lieu of a gift or a grand gesture, I present this.

I have the best big sister in the world. She is two years and one week my senior, and I don't know what I would have done all of these years without her. I certainly have never done anything in my life to deserve a sister like this.

For example, she came to visit me the weekend before last. I was exhausted and stressed out about work and impending house move and my still somewhat cranky foot. And yet, I wanted to make a Shabbat meal for her, my grandmother, and some friends. A small meal quickly became a ten person meal. And what did she do? She came to town for the weekend--for vacation!--and bought all of my groceries for me, helped me cook, swept the kitchen floor, and did all of the dishes for me after Shabbat, because I was too tired. And she didn't complain at all. Not once! This is so something that I would never be able to pull off.

It's a bit astounding that we come from the same exact gene pool. I don't know how she stays so cool, calm, and collected and never whines, not even once. She's so patient. (She was the one who played the flute for years, while I only gave my musical instrument one year. It didn't hurt that she had prodigious musical talent.) I also don't know how she is as giving as she is. She's taken on all sorts of volunteer leadership roles in her community and hosted countless guests at lovely Shabbat meals without breaking a sweat. People often assume that I am a first child, but she is way more first child than I am. If you think I have typical first child characteristics, you should see her! I got mad and accused her of being perfect, actually, when she visited. Mad that she was being so nice to me! As I said, I don't know that I've ever done enough to deserve having her as a sister.

We started out as all siblings do--playing together, fighting, devising secret languages to exclude our younger brother. I used to accuse her of poaching my friends (although I believe I used the word "stealing" at the time), because when friends came over to play with me, she would join in and I was sure that they liked her more than they liked me. And who wouldn't? She was older and therefore cooler. She got to do everything before me, which I hated when we were little but came to appreciate mightily when the SATs and college admissions rolled around. Vignettes from our childhood:
When we got a little bit older, she got more involved in school and decided that she was too old to be involved in certain activities that still thrilled me. Thus, for a few years, I spent more time playing with my brother, doing things that were too juvenile or disgusting for her, like digging up worms in the backyard to make terrariums and mixing up crushed berries from the bush in the front yard to make magic potions. There was a cousins' show at Thanksgiving, but she decided she was too old to participate, so I was stuck bossing around the younger sibs and cousins. (Oh, how I enjoyed that!)

The really great stuff started again around SAT/applying to college stuff, when my parents got trained on her and it was much easier for me. I remember the day she got into college. It was very exciting. I even stopped writing a paper for school to celebrate a little bit.

When she went away to college, her coolness factor sky-rocketed. I spent a few weekends with her, eating in the dining hall and experiencing how great it was to move away from home. (No offense, parents!) I spent Simchat Torah with her on campus and got to hold a sefer Torah for the first time in my life.

Then, when I left home, I got to call and ask her questions, mostly about cooking, but sometimes about laundry or plane tickets. She also knows about things like ironing, which I never really learned how to do. (In a further testimony to her greatness, she has actually ironed shirts for me. I don't remember the occasion, but I do remember thinking that that was never something I would do for someone else except possibly under duress or if I owed them big time.) I spent a year in Israel before college, which coincided with her junior year abroad. We spent a lot of Shabbatot together with relatives that neither one of us knew, as well as with friends that both of us collected along the way.

It's simply gotten better and better from there. We've met and befriended each other's friends. She's finally gotten to experience someone looking at her and seeing me. We live in different cities and have separate identities now, but everyone who meets us knows immediately that we're sisters. (They also always ask who is older. Always. Sometimes I get confused and reply that I am older. Tee hee!)

All of that is sort of par for the course, though. This is why she's the world's best big sister: I call her with cooking questions. I never know how much chicken or fish I need to buy per dinner guest. She always knows. I introduced her to the exquisite goodness that is kale or Swiss chard sauteed with tofu, onions, and portabella mushrooms. I am apparently incapable of following written recipes and prefer to make up recipes from scratch, sometimes resulting in minor disasters. She follows recipes to a T, resulting in always delicious food and a much calmer cooking experience. She's the only one who I can really trust to tell me that something is too large on me, or too small, or too rumpled or shlumpy. She'll support me when someone else is being an ass, yet not hesitate to tell me when I am being one. We can almost share shoes, such that we try on each other's shoes but they never quite fit. (My feet are longer; hers are wider.) She pretends not to mind when I call her too late at night. I pretend not to mind when she calls me too early in the morning. We talk taxes, Roth IRAs, and salary negotiation, and edit each others' resumes. We pass along important and unimportant news about family members, each of us sure that we're always the last to hear anything. We talk men and dating and have a good laugh when we both get set up the same person. We can't happily travel together (we've tried--I think getting slightly lost in a strange city is fun and she does not), but I would be lost without her. She's always had my back and I hope she knows that I always have hers--even though I may never do her dishes or iron her shirts.

I love you!


When you were in the nursery class and your sister was in kindergarten at the same school, teachers remarked at how well you two got along and how you helped one another. Even at that early stage of life, your complimentary personalities and strengths were remarkable. From personal experience I, too, know what a blessing it is to have a wonderful sister. How often are brothers so close? It may be a girl thing.
That's a really lovely tribute. There are lots of folks in my neck of the woods who are big fans of your sister as well, and certainly agree with your assessment.

I was mostly raised as an only child (but I have a variety of step and half-siblings), so I don't have firsthand experience of the kind of bond you're describing. It sounds wonderful.
this entry has gone deep.you are indeed a woman of words and they flow like water from your keys.
its a very emotional read.your sister is mirrored so wonderfully through your words.I can feel the deep bond you share.
I have a sister who is 2 years and 10 months younger than me.I also have memories albeit, some fragmented, of our growing up together.and I laughed at memories you shared as I have experienced them too.I also misted up whilst I read because it emphasized to me that the bond that is formed in childhood can become very fragile with age because its tenacity is tested by the ravages of diversity and irreconcilable differences both personality-wise and religion-wise, that become more acute and significant with age.
cherish what you have and kol hakavod for putting what you feel down in blogger posterity.
What a lovely post. And fun to read.
The truth is, until recently, I thought you were the older sister...
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