Leah.

Once upon a time my sister Leah got married. I was really nervous about having to remember the specific times I was supposed to arrange her train, fluff out her dress, hold the flowers and hand over the ring, while also simultaneously worrying about the possibility of evil black mascara streaks on my face from crying as I watched my dad walk her down the aisle.

In hindsight, it wasn’t that bad.

Except for one thing: I didn’t give a toast to her at the reception. A basic responsibility, am I right? Well, it was one basic, obvious, standard Maid of Honor duty I completely shirked, and to this day, I regret that. (I don’t even have a good reason either.)

Well, today’s her birthday. Here’s the speech I should’ve given 6 years and 4 months ago. Except now I have the benefit of a little more perspective, more time and room and the existence of a personal blog where I can write such things. So here goes: The Birth-Wed-day-ing Toast.

(Clink. Clink. Throat clear.)

“Leah:

I could recount the time(s) you hogged the sheets when we shared a hotel bed and all I had to keep me warm was the laundry instructions tag. Or the time I hyperextended my knee at the Big E and you laughed at me. There was the time (or times…who am I kidding?) we played school and you were the teacher and I was the rambunctious student. Or we played the The Ten Commandments and you were the Nile princess and I was the slave (Notice a trend?). Flavorice, tang-gee and “Oona-kasoona-katoona.” Better Cheddars. Air conducting that song from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

While the memories are great and (mostly) funny, I don’t think they define you. While children, siblings bicker and play together and act silly while not completely aware of the aspects that make each kid an individual. However, that’s the great thing about family members. We all grow up in this front row seat watching each other become who we were created to be, and with maturity we can recognize and appreciate each other’s qualities. So here goes:

1. You are your family’s and friends’ biggest fan. When something good happens to us, you take a no-holds-barred approach in expressing your excitement (KSJFHLKSFDHGFDLKJHG!!!!!!!!!!). When something bad happens, you ask what you can do, how you can help, if we’d like something to eat; you pick up the phone, send a message or get on an airplane. I appreciate your genuineness.

2. In regards to the eating…I love how baking is one of your tangible expressions of love. How you grant my requests for those Italian almond cookies that I’m not supposed to eat or that rich chocolate cake that’s to die for. I know the heart behind these delicious treats, and how they play a dual role of both tasting good and making people feel good, and that’s why they mean a lot to me. Similarly, I like how you make things look pretty in your home for the benefit and welcoming of others. The time you spend speaks of your hospitality and wish for people to enjoy themselves and leave your house encouraged. It works, by the way.

3. I’m glad that we have cooperative senses of humor, that your outlook on life things is straight up, that you say outlandish things that make me gasp and then crack up, that you snicker when you laugh, that you say, “LOLZZZ!!!” a lot and that you make me feel like a comedian.

4. Hindsight is 20/20, which is why I can say this now as opposed to 6 years ago: You are a great mother. You genuinely enjoy the company of your daughter, spend time with her and always speak well of her. I especially love how you love the little things, the crunchy diapers, the mini bite marks in her food, the silly little words, the play time. You’re like a big kid yourself a lot of the time, but PLEASE don’t change that about yourself.

5. We were supposed to be asleep that one December night, but instead you told me about Jesus, the Greatest of All Loves, and then you helped me pray. Because you loved me so much, that you wanted me to know too.

I love you, Leah, and I’m so thankful we are sisters and friends.”

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