I love you, my dear, more than I ever would have thought possible when we were 14 and 16 years old, physically strangling each other in the front seat of my station wagon over which radio station we were going to listen to on the way home from school. More than I would have thought possible when we were kids and I swore a million times that I would never talk to you again, EVER. Clearly, I was not entirely serious, even in my fury-fueled fits of righteous indignation, for at this point in my life, you are one of my favorite people to talk to, and one of the first people I turn to when things get rough. You are my sister and friend (I would say 'best friend,' but when one has four brothers and sisters, one must be semantically careful at all times), and I love you more than the stars, the moon, and the sun, and all the things in the universe. And, importantly, more than my luggage. Happy birthday, my pet. Welcome to getting older. Let me assure you that you don't have any wrinkles, have you lost weight?, your boobs are perkier than at any other time in your life, and you are still a million times smarter than me. Also, your eyebrows are a work of art.
I'd like now, in a gesture of supreme sisterly love, to catalogue all your fine qualities that I do not mean as a joke, even though all you did on my birthday was leave me a facebook message that said, "hey you never called me. i love you happy birthday!" I'm going to do this both because I love you, and because it will prove once and for all that I am a better person than you are. Finally, redemption!!!! Mwa-hahahahahaha!
First of all, I wasn't joking when I said you are beautiful, because clearly you are. Why just look at this:
You are one good-lookin' gal! But what is better than how beautiful you are on the outside is how truly, astonishingly, gorgeously wonderful you are on the inside. For a girl who routinely pretends in public to be a tough cookie, you are just one big walking mushball with a maternal streak a mile wide. This is actually hilarious, given that you routinely get frustrated with Captain Mommypants for being such a bleeding heart, when your entire life is one long struggle not to adopt every puppy and small child that walks by you. I must say, you've held out remarkably well in the face of such strong adoptive instincts, but you're getting old now, Umulu. Time to start taking in strays and knitting. I mean, after all, something's got to keep you warm on all those long cold lonely nights that stretch in front of you as a spinster. Trust me, I know. Nothing like a homemade afghan and a lapdog.
But this is not the only wonderful thing about you, my dear. Indeed, I could fill a book. You are limitlessly generous, intellectually curious, ferociously intelligent, and unstoppable when inspired to leap to somebody's defense. You are funny enough to leave me in stitches, an unabashedly terrible driver, and never more comfortable than when walking around the house in enormous sweatsuits when it is 80 degrees outside. Also, I have never met another person who can chew as much ice as you can. Positively pantagruelian.
As if all of these wonderful qualities weren't enough, there is one more that tops them all. This is the quality that makes me not only like you and love you, but has lead me to respect you tremendously. What I admire about you the most, Umulu, is your willingness to look hard at yourself, to evaluate your own behavior, and honestly and earnestly set yourself to the task of improving. It takes a particularly strong sort of person to be the super-awesome-wonder-ball that you are, and still look deep within yourself and ask in all seriousness, "Ok. But how can I be a better person?"
Over the years you have frustrated me, angered me, loved me, made me laugh, cheered me up when I was down, come flaming to the rescue when I was in trouble, and shared some of the most memorable experiences of my life with me. I love you, sister. I love you, I admire you, and when I'm old and cranky and full of wrinkles, I hope we can sit together in rocking chairs, surrounded by our millions of kids and lots of dogs, getting drunk, and singing all those old Irish folk songs that only we know.
Happy birthday, my dear. I love you.
Your Older, Wiser, and Infinitely Superior Sister, Amazing Cheastypants.