Recently it came to light that my sister was dissatisfied with the speech I gave at her wedding. Apparently, it lacked the flourish, emotion, and the eloquence I’m known for in my writing. Because I honestly can’t remember what I said except confusing the words ‘aunt’ and ‘niece,’ I’m inclined to believe it was so beautiful I blacked out while giving it and she doesn’t know how to appreciate art. Or maybe it’s because I was 21 at the time and she’s judging that version of me to current Chelsea. Either way, I figured it might be time for a do-over.
Let me set the scene. It’s Saturday, April 21, 2012. It’s been a rainy and chilly day, but spirits are high both figuratively and literally because the alcohol is flowing. I stand in my beautiful green bridesmaids dress with freshly darkened hair to cover the fact that I’d dyed it six times over the last month. My face flushes, as it always does when I speak in front of people, and I begin.
Hello, everyone. If you don’t know me, I’m Chelsea, Kristi’s little sister and maid of honor (not the strongest start but I persist). It wouldn’t matter if I had several months or seven years to write this speech, I probably would never do my sister and our relationship the justice it deserves.
You see, our relationship has been, in a word, tumultuous. Mostly because I was the incredibly annoying and lazy kid sister. There have been bunkbed fights, boots thrown, hair pulled, and even a few bites here and there. Our bickering could likely get even the most professional spy to talk in an interrogation just so we’d stop. Even today, as adults, we still slip into these roles where harsh words are said and feelings are hurt, but they never last.
Just like when we were children, the right song or movie quote can pull us back together from our fight and what seemed like an argument that could ruin the evening is reduced to giggles as we sing an old Barney song in the back of the car. It’s a well-known fact that the easiest way to get me to smile when I’m dragon-nostril flaring-mad is for her to sing Cheer Up, Charlie. I don’t like it, but it works.
Like most big sisters, she’s gone out of her way all my life to make fun of me, but the hardest part is I’m usually laughing too. It doesn’t matter what story she’s telling, even if it’s my most embarrassing, she’s so frustratingly funny I find myself laughing at my own expense.
It’s probably because she is and always has been my favorite person in the world.
You see, for all my academic accolades and achievements, I’ve never had the same spark as Kristi. We were just kids when she decided she wanted to be a reporter after watching Almost Famous, and against all odds in a bad market in a small town, that’s what she did.
[Current interjection: It’s what she still does. She moved to a new city and immediately starting getting opportunities to do what she loves, which is tell incredible stories.]
This spark is what pulls us all into her. It doesn’t matter how frustrated we are with her or how mad she’s made us, just one giggle, joke, or funny dance move and we’re all laughing with her. And yes, sometimes it involves the passing of gas in inopportune places. It’s gross and you want to be mad, but you will undoubtedly laugh as she scurries away trying not to laugh herself.
I’m lucky to be from a family of funny people. I’m unlucky because I’ve always been aware that I am hands down the most un-funny of us. That’s not to say I don’t have my moments, but you can’t shine next to Kristi. She will always be funnier, wittier, and cleverer than you but you’ll be too busy laughing to be resentful.
When she first started bringing Zach around, I didn’t know if he’d last. In many ways, he’s her opposite in his more reserved demeanor and mumbled style of speaking. Sorry, Zach, I love you but you mumble and I can’t hear you. But her spark affects him just like it affects us.
I’ve seen him with his grumpiest face and she can wiggle close and just do the right thing to get him to smile and laugh, even if its subtle. It’s even more entertaining watching how often he tries not to laugh at her. It’s a fruitless effort, Zach. I’ve been trying my whole life.
You two complement each other in such perfect ways and it’s clear God brought you together for a purpose. Hopefully, part of that purpose are two wonderful little angels named Louisa and Julia, but I don’t want to get ahead of my dreaming.
I’m so thankful to be standing here today to celebrate my sister and my new brother-in-law. The older I get, the more I hear stories of siblings who aren’t close and it breaks my heart. Having Kristi as a sister brings me more joy than I can express and I feel sorry for everyone who doesn’t have her as a sister. Now, as part of this deal, I get Zach too.
Here’s to many more years of me being your third wheel and hopefully in seven years you aren’t disappointed with my speech. I love you Kristi, so much more than I can ever express, and I’m so proud of all you’ve done. And Zach, you’re okay too. Cheers.