One of the best gifts

Sister with her bride doll way back then

Sister with her bride doll way back then

“You keep your past by having sisters.  As you get older, they’re the only ones who don’t get bored if you talk about your memories.”  ~Deborah Moggach

Today is my sister’s birthday.  She’s older than me, but not the oldest sibling.  We have another sister who is the oldest of the three of us. 

The birthday girl is in the middle.  When I was born, she was nine years old and our oldest sister was 12.

For most of my growing up years, this sister probably thought I was a pest.  My sisters and I all shared a bedroom, so it was difficult for my older siblings to escape from me.

I followed my sisters around, no doubt annoying them.  When they listened to music on our oldest sister’s record player, I wanted to listen too.  They just wanted me to go away.  I was way too curious about their stuff whether it was lipstick, jewelry, or what they kept in their purses.  They complained about me getting into their belongings.

When my middle sister started dating, I must have sensed it wasn’t a great idea that she date a particular beau.  I distinctly remember hiding the shoes she wanted to wear on date night.  In my five-year-old mind, if she couldn’t find her shoes, she couldn’t go.

Someone once wrote, “Sisters annoy, interfere, criticize.  Indulge in monumental sulks, in huffs, in snide remarks.  Borrow.  Break.  Monopolize the bathroom.  Are always underfoot…”

That probably would be a good definition of what my sister thought of me back then.  I think she did find me annoying, always underfoot, and generally a pain.  And then came the day when I basically ruined the one thing she cherished.

Sister received a bride doll at Christmas time one year.  It was the kind of doll you don’t play with, but instead lay on your bed as a sweet keepsake of childhood. 

She planned on keeping it pristine and beautiful, sealed away in its box, until the day my sister married her Prince Charming.  Then, the lovely bride doll would decorate her marriage bed (hey, this was the late 50’s, things were very different back then!).

That was her plan until I ‘played’ with her doll one day while sister wasn’t home.  Being so much younger than my sisters, I often wanted a playmate.  They weren’t willing to comply much of the time because music and boys captivated their interests.   

So that day, I wandered around the house looking for something different to play with.  When I opened the closet door in our bedroom, there she was – the bride doll in her box.

She was so beautiful in her white bridal gown and veil, but I decided to make her lovelier and play ‘beauty shop’ with her.  I took her veil off and proceeded to comb her dark curly hair. 

Ooops, Miss Bridal Beauty started losing a few strands of her hair in my comb!  The more I combed, the more her curls became non-existent and she ended up with a straight, wild array for a hairdo that was anything but becoming.

I moved on to her face.  She needed a better make-up job.  So I ‘borrowed’ my sister’s lipstick and smeared it on Bridal Beauty’s face.  Suddenly, I realized she didn’t really look better like I had envisioned she would.  I placed her back in the closet hoping sister wouldn’t notice.

As if!  Oh, the scorn of it all.  How dare I touch her treasured doll, let alone positively ruin it!  She huffed and puffed and cried and rightly so.  I really did feel terrible because of what I had done. 

I often thought my sister never forgave me for my naughty misdeed.  I know she never forgot because even as adults, she would occasionally mention the time ‘you ruined my bride doll.’

Years passed by.  My sister married and moved out of the house, just like my older sister had also done.  I grew up, married, and moved far away.   As adults, my sisters and I became very close even though we lived in different areas of the country. 

Through the years, we have always been there for one another in good times and bad.  The quote I cited above ends like this:  “…But if catastrophe should strike, sisters are there.  Defending you against all comers.”  ~Pam Brown 

So true.  And that adequately describes the bond my sisters and I have today.

Almost 15 years ago, my family (hubby, my children, and I) moved back to our homeland.   A few months later, my father and I took my cancer-stricken mother shopping one day just for a little diversion.  Christmas would come soon and it would be the last holiday we would spend with our mother.

As Mom and I looked around in one shop  (window shopping as my mom would say), I saw it – a gorgeous doll, garbed in wedding white complete with a bridal veil. 

I picked it up and told my mom, “I know what I’m getting Sister for Christmas, this bride doll.  It’s not exactly like the one I ruined, but maybe she’ll treasure it like she did that one all those years ago.”

My mom smiled and agreed it was a great gift.

That Christmas, I could hardly contain my excitement.  It felt like being a kid again to see what my sister’s reaction would be when she opened her special gift.  I didn’t know what to expect.  I just hoped she’d be pleased and put that hurt I had caused her away for good.  I just wanted to make amends and the doll was my atonement.

The new bride doll in 1998

The new bride doll in 1998

Sister opened her brightly wrapped Christmas box and she was stunned.  She burst into tears at the sight of a beautiful bride doll and she immediately knew what this gift represented. 

Sisterly love.  The kind of love that sometimes hurts, but always still endures.  The kind of love that wants to make it all better.  The kind of love we sisters have for one another.

It was one of the best gifts I’ve ever given another person. 

And on this day, this best day of the year, I celebrate one of the best gifts I’ve ever received – my sister. 

Happy Birthday, dear sister!



14 responses

  1. Again you’ve brought tears of happiness to my heart. Many wonderful memories of my sister that I cherish & no longer have to share life with.


    • Thanks so much, Renee; I hope your daughters enjoy my post. Funny thing, most only children wish they had a sister or brother (my mom was an only child and she used to say the same thing), but those of us with siblings sometimes wished we were only children! Ha. I cherish my sisters though and am so happy to have them.


  2. Well I cried all over again. Thank you for this blog. Yes your gift was a beautiful gift from your heart and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. The bride doll you gave me is and will be very special. Sisters are a gift from God.


  3. Your “sister” story brought me to tears mama! How lucky you are to have each other and what a wonderful gift that bride doll was. I do not have sisters, but I feel the same about my brother. He was the pest in the old days. One Xmas when we were very young, we each received identical cash register banks from Santa. I saved mine but Steve lost his. Many many years later, when I was “antiquing” with friends I spied the same toy bank and gave it to him for Christmas. The message was the same as yours, and still makes me cry.


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