Saturday, December 03, 2005

It's Jeri G. Day!

Everyone needs traditions, and especially families. It's what holds us together, and gives us the shared memories that make us real families, not just people who happen to have common ancestors.
Today was one of those traditions.
I have a younger sister, who is one of my favorite people. Bright and clever, with a wicked sense of humor, and a great attitude. She just retired after teaching elementary school for many years - for which my other sister and I have promoted her to oldest. Only fair, if she's retired and we're still working, don't you think?
But a few years back, her life wasn't quite so rosy. Her son, the oldest of her three kids, was going through what is politely called "a rough patch." The stress was making her unhappy, and home was more a minefield than a refuge, as the entire family tried to negotiate the highly-charged environment.
That year, I invited Jeri out to the beach for her birthday. The local AAUW chapter sponsors a holiday home tour, so I bought tickets for us. I took her to breakfast, then we went and looked at how the other 1% lives. (These tours are always expensive homes in an exclusive gated community. The kind of place most of us will never live.) We wandered through the houses on the tour, walked a little ways through the neighborhood, and generally just hung out. We went to the quilt shop, and stopped in the candy store. In short, we did goofy, girly things for a few hours, and for that one afternoon she didn't have to be constantly worrying about what the rest of her family was doing.
When she got ready to drive home, she told me, "Today felt like Jeri G. day at the beach." I knew our day together had helped.
Since that day, things have improved for her. Her son is still a great kid, and he is growing into a fine man, who is learning to handle his problems in positive ways. Kid #2, my niece, graduates from college this year, and the "baby girl" will finish high school in June, and already has been accepted at two universities.
But we still have Jeri G. day, because we enjoy it. Today my husband came with us, and the three of us had a blast. We had a late breakfast at a local "joint" where the cook really knows his way around an omlette. We wandered through an assortment of gorgeous houses, admiring the views of the ocean, and looking at ideas for our own houses. We may never actually do any of them, but it's fun to look. We did a little shopping. Nothing monumental, nothing of great importance, nothing that will change the world.
But it changes our world, just a little. It reminds us that we are sisters, not just of blood, but of the heart. The third sister, the one in the middle, didn't make it this year. She was working on a Habitat for Humanity project, and couldn't come down to join us. We missed her, but I am so proud of what she was doing!
So, today I just want to send a love letter to my sisters. As with my in-laws, I got very lucky in the family ties sweepstakes.
Some days, life is really, really good.