Friday, November 4, 2011

Orange Slices and Life Lessons

My mom and I were somewhere recently and somehow the topic of siblings sharing a bedroom came up. I am one of four and my younger sister and I are just a year apart so it was only logical we should be the two sharing a room. We each had our own twin bed with one nightstand between and we even shared a dresser, just a couple of drawers apiece. We alternately loved and hated the set up.

My dad built a long book/toy shelf and somehow we divided that space as well. Right down to the centimeter I'm sure. I can still remember the wallpaper we helped choose....a teeny tiny pattern of pink, red and white flowers glued to the walls and ceiling by my dad. The woodwork was painted red. Hey, it was the sixties people. We loved it...until we got tired of it, but for a while we loved it.

There is something special about growing up with a sister so near to you in age. She was my constant companion and playmate which of course can be wonderful or dreadful depending on the day. Lots of times we played with a group of girls in the neighborhood who were my age, one whole entire year older than sister2. We all know these things matter when you're nine. Sister2 would take any part we gave her just to be allowed to join the fun.

'We're playing house-you can be the dog.'

I don't remember my mom intervening in these little girl negotiations too much. The natural hierarchy of the neighborhood prevailed and somehow we managed to have a lot of fun and/or someone ran home crying while simultaneously shouting "I'm telling mom!" Hours passed, sometimes only minutes even, and then all was forgiven and forgotten. We were back to playing together only this time with a little more kindness shown towards the offended... a little more awareness of how tender feelings need gentle handling.

We had loads of dress up clothes and spent hours wearing them around the house and sometimes the neighborhood. We liked to make up plays and put on shows for whoever we could corral into watching. We played house and store and all sorts of games we made up with our very active, some might say overactive, imaginations. We had no need of a plastic pink house for our Barbies. In the back corner of our yard, really our neighbor's yard, was a great big tree. The ground beneath its branches was the perfect spot for our version of the 'Dream House'.

On Saturday mornings we had chores to do but afterwards we could usually be found with our paper dolls spread from one end of the living room to the other. Our living room was formal and rarely used but it was an ideal location for just such an activity.

When I got into high school my older sister1 had married and moved out of her 'super cool yellow room'. I got to move in to that room with its full sized canopy bed and big yellow flowers on the wall. It's the 70's now-keep up people!

I was happy to have my own room and I think sister2 felt the same. Most of the time. Much to our surprise we sometimes missed the small space between the twin beds where secrets were whispered in a room we shared. So every now and then, on Friday nights, sister2 and I would have a 'sleep over'. She'd come sleep in my room or I'd go sleep in hers.

You see for all the complaining and the bickering and the negotiating of space that took place in our shared room there was also something else. There was the cementing of sisterhood.

Sister2 is celebrating a BIG birthday this weekend and in honor of that I'm going to write down a little story that does not paint me in the best light but remember I was the big sister and it was my job to keep the little in check-

We didn't get candy very often when we were kids so when we did it was considered a very special treat. I don't remember now why we had candy on this particular afternoon but my mom had given us one small bag of the candied orange slices to share. The gummy kind that are rolled in sugar. We were in heaven.

As was our modus operandi back in the day we very carefully counted them out-one for you, one for me, one for you, one for me.

Even steven.
Fair and square.

We were sitting on the floor of our bedroom playing a game of some sort and when sister2 wasn't looking, I stashed my orange slices behind my back. She noticed they were gone and in a precious moment of spontaneous sibling love and generosity said she would share the rest of hers with me. She then gave me half of all she had left. Which I gobbled up pronto.

And then, in a not so precious moment of spontaneous sibling naughtiness, I whipped mine out from behind my back and laughed. She did not. In fact I'm pretty sure she told mom. And I'm pretty sure I was scolded and had to hand mine over to sister. The end.

Its funny what you remember. Out of all of childhood's million moments we both remember this one in exactly the same way. Last year we exchanged bags of candied sugared orange slices with one another on our respective birthdays. And we laughed. Because its the good the bad and the ugly that binds two sister's hearts.

Happy Birthday little sister!


  1. Joyce, I love this post! My sister and I are only 20 months apart and I know exactly what you are speaking of. Happy birthday to your sis!

  2. What great memories you have of growing up! To have a sister as a best friend is wonderful.

  3. What a wonderful post! Fantastic photos - you're so lucky to have grown up with such a close sibling.

  4. Great post! Great memories. I wish I had some sweet memories like that.
    (Those pictures remind me of the pictures of your daughters.)

  5. Ditto. I love this post, too! With three girls (for the longest time, till baby sis was born) it was 2 bedrooms to be split. So we'd take turns every 6 mos we'd have our own. But sometimes my younger sister and I would miss each other or she'd get scared and come slip into bed with us older two. Those were the days when 3 people in a double bed felt cozy, not suffocating! Aah, sisterhood. Love it.

  6. That brought back memories of my sister that's 18 months older than I, but she was the nice one & I was the one that would've done that very same thing to her!
    Sisters are the best, aren't they? :)

  7. such precious memories, all the pics, too. It's amazing how much your pics look like your kids pics, too.

  8. What a great post - I was an only child and always wished for a sister. Thank you for posting all the great memories and pictures.

  9. Such a funny post. I love it. There is nothing quite like a sister. I have 2 and I wouldn't trade them for anything (although a there have been a few times I would have gladly given them away). lol

  10. What fun childhood memories, thanks for sharing! Now, I'll always think of this story whenever I eat an orange slice! LOL Hope little sis has a happy birthday :)

  11. I love these pictures. I think I have some that look exactly like them! My older sister and I are a mere 11 months apart - born in the SAME calendar year!
    Fun times...then and now. :)

  12. I don't know what I love more- your memories or the lovely way you tell them! I have three brothers so no room sharing for me but our girls had to share, two to a room. And they have quite the stories to tell!

  13. What beautiful memories you have in those pictures. Thank you for sharing some of your childhood with me. Happy Birthday to your sister. Have a nice weekend.

  14. Love this post.....Happy Birthday to your lil sis! I come from a family of five girls so I get the bond and trouble having sister siblings....oh the stories and notes we could compare!!

    Have a wonderful time!

  15. LOVE this! You were mean with the oranges! ha! You should give her some for her birthday. My girls are 15 months apart . . . I hope they stay close. :)

  16. Ha! Totally something that I, the older sister, would have done too. Did people think you were twins?

  17. I love this post. It was so precious and the orange slice story was the best. Thank you for sharing this with us and wish your sister a very Happy Birthday for me.

  18. Loved this post! There were 8 years between me and my younger sister, so we didn't have a relationship/friendship like this.

    At Christmas I use those candied orange slices to make a special treat. Dip them halfway in melted dark chocolate, then set on wax paper to cool and let the chocolate harden. They are SO good!