“Did you open the package from your sister?”
In our house, the mail travels in a stack, landing where ever the family carrier lands. On the floor by the couch, on the bathroom counter, the dining room table….even the barn. We’ve missed wedding invitations, registered mail, Christmas cards, and countless bills this way. But nothing flips me out more than to think I’ve missed a package. Even at work, I get a little excited when I see a package on my desk. It generally ends up being a random desk accessory or a coffee mug from some consultant, but the appearance of the package gives me a lift nonetheless.
Everyone shops on-line these days. I admit I love it. Not only do I avoid the dreaded mall (six years in retail will do that do you), but it invites the arrival of packages. This is a time when my short-term memory loss is a delight. When I first see a package has arrived, I’ve forgotten what I ordered. So there’s a temporary thrill of anticipation when I grab the box and shake it. And that thrill lasts until it eventually dawns on me that “Oh…this is Louie’s shoulder brace.” Or “…Liza’s prom shoes.” No treats for me until my annual order of black yoga pants arrives from Lands’ End.
The older we get, the rarer packages-with-real-potential become.
So at 52, you can imagine how my heart skipped a beat when John said I had a package from my sister.
My sisters are great. I have four of them. They are each crazy-successful people who have scads of wonderful interests. From roasting their own coffee to tracking raptors with bird scopes. From deep exploration of the arts to training service dogs. They are creative, busy and ambitious. They are independent, clever and hilarious. They are so different from one another and I love each one. In fact, when our first daughter was born, I prayed and prayed for another girl. I wanted her to have a sister. I knew she needed one. Women who don’t have a sister need to find one in a friend. Sisters are critical to survival.
John fetched the package for me and laid it carefully on my lap. It was wrapped in folds of white tissue with a sticker on the front with my name on it: “Kris”.
Not the Kristi of college and beyond.
But Kris. The growing-up-when-all-my-sisters-were-home name.
I peeled back the tissue, expecting to see a lovely scarf. (My sister has such good taste.) Or maybe a spa accessory. (She likes to send indulge-yourself gifts.) Or perhaps something with a farm theme…in honor of our recent move to the country.
What is it?
I caught a peek of something familiar. A small dark green and golden box of…..crayons. And another box. Of elegant colored pencils. With their own sharpener. And two…beautiful…coloring books.
There was a feeling inside of me that swooshed me back 40 years. A feeling of giddy delight at the prospect of my own, clean, perfect, beautiful coloring books. With fresh, perfect crayons and pencils. I gasped. It actually made me well up. I hugged them to me.
My 15-year-old daughter bounced onto the bed next to me and said, “COOL! I want these!”
I instinctively turned my back to her, clutching the bundle tightly to my chest, proclaiming, “No! MINE!” then laughing out loud at myself.
I meant it though. Mine.
I remembered how a sister might occasionally allow me to color one page of a precious book. But only a boring page. One requiring only a couple of colors. Like an elephant. Or a whale. Something a clumsy younger sister couldn’t easily ruin by going outside the lines or something. Of course, they would save the pages with butterflies or flowers for themselves. Who wouldn’t?
Boring. Living on the scraps of the coloring book world.
When a coloring book was all yours it was the best…thing…ever.
I was the youngest. No, wait. I am the youngest. Always will be.
And these coloring books my Big Sister gave me were mine. I was 8 again.
And it felt really, really good.