Today is my sister Nancy's birthday. Nancy is the oldest in our family (Mary Ellen is next, then me), and so of course, she was the person who was the first to do a lot of things - first to go to college and graduate, first to get married, first to have a baby - you get the picture. When I was growing up, we spent an awful lot of time arguing with each other, mainly because (to quote my mother), Nancy was "an agitator," and I had an extremely quick temper (still do, though I control it *much* better now!). Like most people, once both of us got older, and became more like friends, we got along a lot better.
Of the three of us, Nancy is definitely the most glamorous. She always knew what the latest fashion and looks were, how to put on makeup so not to look a) freakish, b) clownish, or c) like an aging Kabuki actor. Until she moved out of the house, she was the one who cut all of our hair and would fix it for us anytime there was a special occasion. Like the whole family, she liked animals. She knew how to sew, and was one of those people who could see something in a store window, and then recreate it herself. She has always had lots of friends, and, needless to say, is a lot of fun. She and her husband Michael have two children (Chad and Lauren, they of earlier birthday messages), as well as four granchildren, all of whom are wonderful people, and a lot of fun themselves.
I had the chance to visit with Nancy a little bit this past weekend, when one of our nieces got married in Baltimore. It was great to get to see her (she lives in southern California), though since there was so much going on, there wasn't much time to really catch up. And it made me kind of sad because she lives so far away, and I don't get to see her as often as I see some of my other family, who live closer. But we talk on the phone nearly every weekend, and both of us check in to a family website regularly, so as the old telephone company ad used to say, "It's the next best thing to being there."
Anyway, I just wanted anyone reading this to know that Nancy is the best that a sister could be, even if I pick on her mercilessly (I can't be bothered to pick on people I dislike). I know that I could call her anytime, and whatever she could do, she would do it, if I needed her help. I know that we will never become the kind of sisters who lose touch, or stop speaking over something neither of us can remember ten years later. And most importantly, I know that she loves me as much as I love her. You can't ask for more from a sister than that.
So Happy Birthday, Nancy! Have an extra glass of wine to celebrate!
All Saints' Day
Today is also All Saints' Day. When we were all in school, and lived someplace where we attended Catholic school, we were always jealous because Nancy got her birthday as a day off (we did too, but it wasn't our birthday!).
I always liked All Saints' Day, because it was so incredibly broad in scope. It pleased me to think that saints that were really obscure had at least one day when they were just as important as the other saints. (I always pictured it as a day when they each had their own birthday cake and the angels sang to them. Which was a perfectly logical belief when you are 8 years old. Not so much once you hit 30 ...) I mean, we all know the "famous" saints, like St. Patrick, St. Joseph, St. Theresa, etc., but how often do we think of St. Ubald? Or St. Bibiana (whose feast day was on my mother's birthday, so she took it as her confirmation name)? Or St. Fiacra? Well, come All Saints' Day, they had their chance to celebrate, and to be appreciated. Plus, it was a day of honor for any saints we may not even know about, but they still got their cake and song! Who could not like All Saints' Day?
And speaking of saints, I was trying to locate the patron saint of knitters. I couldn't come across anything definitive, since there were no specific listings under "knitting," or "knitters." I did learn that St. Blaise (he of the blessing of the throats) is the patron saint of wool workers. But in the end, I think we have to go with St. Clare of Assisi, who is listed as the patron saint of embroiderers and needleworkers, among other things.
Which reminds me of a joke that I think every kid who ever attended Catholic school knew in first or second grade. I'll share it here, since Blogger won't let me upload the really cool images I found for All Saints' Day and St. Clare of Assisi. Anyway, here goes:
First kid: Did you hear about the big fight in heaven?
Second kid: No, what happened?
First kid: St. Peter called St. Francis a sissy!
[ba dump bump]
I know, I should have quit while I was ahead ...