Have you ever had a hero?

Today is my sister’s birthday. In all our years together, I’ve only missed 4 of them. College seemed like a natural excuse, but today I’m a little sad that I couldn’t be there to bake her a checkerboard cake, crash the happy hour her friends will probably host, and be an overall annoying little sister in all the best possible ways.

So, in honor of that, I wanted to remember some of the silly adventures we’ve gotten ourselves into together over the years. We’ve hosted cookie decorating contests and sushi making parties, been to myriad concerts and beautiful beaches. We’ve made some terrible fashion choices (um dresses + jeans, anyone?) and some really good ones (duh, everything we wear right now). We’ve raced up escalators and stubbed our toes. A lot. (Actually, she stubs her toes more than me, so we’re clear.) We’ve bought each other matching gifts on more than 1 (ok, probably more than 5) occasions, visited the real parthenon and the fake parthenon, attended hockey games and baseball games, eaten plenty of nachos and consumed plenty of beer. We’ve carried chairs through the streets to dinner parties and lied about what was in our dishes because otherwise our healthy friends wouldn’t touch them. We’ve toured museums and famous landmarks and wandered around the streets in the not-so-famous part of cities aplenty. We’ve bought maternity clothes for her together, and even once for me (whoops!). We’ve picked crabs and shared ostrich, kudu and eland, been on boats, been on hikes and been on bikes (ha! a rhyme). We’ve held hands during deaths and marriages and (now!) births, traveled all over the world together, and sometimes we’ve just taken “staycations” at home.

When I was little, I had a frame that said, “A sister is a forever friend.” I can only imagine that she bought this for me, and I remember creating a collage of photos that featured our awesomeness inside. Then, I liked the idea of a sister. Now, I actually get it. What’s really important is the number of times I’ve called her upset and she’s been there for me. Or the way I know just how to lighten the mood and switch perspectives when she’s stressed out or worried.

So today, in honor of Dice’s big birthday, I thought I’d let you in on A Big Secret of Sisterdom: Sibling’s Weekend.

In a nutshell, siblings weekend is one weekend a year where the two of us pick a spot on the map where we haven’t been and “jet” off together. It started off when she was getting married and we wanted to escape the stress of party planning for one weekend before the big day (and, as the little sister, I selfishly wanted to hang out with her as single sisters one last time). Now, we aim to go the last weekend in June each year, and have so far been on some really memorable trips. Montreal, Nashville, Edinburg VA, New Orleans, Annapolis. You can’t beat places like those. I’ll also remind you, the Culinary Safari features prominently during these trips.

On our list for future trips (in no particular order): Indianapolis, Vancouver, St. Louis, Toronto, Austin, Dallas, Chicago, Sante Fe, Santa Barbara, Big Sur, Salt Lake City, Knoxville, Barbados, Bahamas, Savannah. We made this list when we were on the airplane on our way to New Orleans. At some point, the trips got grander and grander (Bahamas?) and we realized that by the time we got there, we would be in our 40s (horror!). So we figured we’d end the list and reassess when we ran out of places.

At some point, we may have to take a break, skip a year, or seriously downsize the trip (like the year I was broke and we went to Edinburg VA, or the year she was pregnant and we couldn’t fly so we drove to Annapolis instead). But that doesn’t really matter. Because at the end of the day, Sibling’s Weekend is a fun excuse to get to together. A reason to pause and remember that through it all – families and moving and school and work – we always have each other to rely on, as either a front line  defense or a second-string backup if our other resources are taken.

Dice, here’s to your birthday, your example and your amazing last year. Here’s to 26 years together and 62 more to come. Here’s to continued traditions and maybe even the possibility of a Cousin Weekend in the future. (I’m picturing us, in our 50s, with our families and our kids and a beach house and some long hikes. And some delicious food. There will always be delicious food.)

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