A Thank You Letter to My Sister On Her Birthday

By Kate Riley January 18, 2012

Dear Sis,

Thank you for being born 4th and not 2nd because someone like me had to be the older sister and clearly with my bossy nature I’m better equipped to handle that responsibility.  Thank you for always being so agreeable whenever I made you eat something, wear something, or say something you didn’t understand just to get a laugh. 

feeding sis

Thank you for being 3 inches to the left when I launched that baseball across the yard to our middle brother because if you had not been 3 inches to the left I would have creamed you in the head with that baseball and you might not be as smart or musically talented as you are today.

mickey and davyThank you for making that mix tape we used to listen to as kids when we shared a room and accepting Mickey Dolenz as your boyfriend just so I could have Davy Jones as my boyfriend while we watched Monkees reruns on Nickelodeon after school.

Thank you for tolerating the fact that I have recently started introducing you as my older sister to strangers just to see the look of confusion that crosses people’s faces.


Thank you for joining me in a perfect harmony and without question or any shame whatsoever whenever I start singing any song we loved as kids, even when we’re in front of crowds of absolute strangers.

haynes sisters white christmas


Thank you for almost but not actually fainting from low blood sugar in those moments right before you walked down the aisle as my maid of honor at my wedding because you forgot to eat that day.

Thank you for giving me to your secret crème brulee recipe and I won’t tell anyone you don’t have a culinary torch but instead you solidify the sugar behind closed doors with your husband’s big blow torch.  Oh, oops. 


jean jacketThank you for setting the scene for this picture from the summer of 1990 where we’re both starring in this teen angst movie directed by John Hughes where I play the Ally Sheedy role and you’re like a female version of Andrew McCarthy, oh so cool with your knock off RayBan Wayfarers and your jean jacket slung over your shoulder and we’re bitter because our parents have dragged us on a tour of the Hershey factory and we’d rather be listening to REM on our Walkmans.

Thank you for admiring my bad perm so much that you went and had yours done too year after year after year between 1985 and 1989.

Thank you for making me laugh every single time I talk to you on the phone like last night when we each described in detail our five step technique for the perfect sprayed teased permed 80s bangs. 

Thank you for starting the anti birthday card tradition between us where in years past I’ve received ‘Congratulations on your Godchild’ and ‘For the High School Graduate’ cards instead of an actual birthday card. I treasure each one.

Thank you for actually listening to me when I talked you into moving to Sacramento just so I could sleep on your futon with the lumpy mattress when I came home from the law library and listen to your pregnant cat bellow all night on the deck.  Because let’s not forget if you hadn’t listened to me, and I hadn’t suffered the sounds of that bellowing pregnant cat, then you never would have met your wonderful husband and so now I’m taking full credit for all of your happiness.  

Thank you for taking that impromptu trip to NYC with me five years ago and for allowing me the great pleasure of taking you to Tiffanys and Bloomies and we talked and laughed so much we were hoarse and could barely speak on the plane ride home except to bust out into random songs from when we were kids.  And why have we never taken a picture of us together since this one from 2006?  Hmmmmm?  Your fault.

kate and sis nyc

Thank you for always being supportive and bragging about me to perfect strangers. I could never do that. Thank you for being the strongest woman of faith I know and for reminding me time and again how very weak and flawed I am. You’re really good at that. 

Thank you for not caring when the kids interrupt me five times in five minutes when I’m on the phone with you and for listening to me vent about things that bug me and always keeping my confidence.  

Happy Birthday Sis, I love ya as much as I loved my perm in 1988.

Your *younger* sister,






  1. Kate what a beautiful post. I feel as if I would have written the exact same things to my sisters – I would just change the photos. :-) Even though it is her birthday, I love that you see all that she is as being an everyday gift in your life. I join you in wishing her a most lovely day!

  2. WOW that was awesome, very funny and touching to see that you are so lucky to have such a wonderful relationship with your sister, it must make your parents very happy to see that their children love each other so much. Thanks for sharing, and bringing back memories of my eighties perms!!

  3. I hope someday I’ll be lucky enough to have kids that are as close as you are.

    Oh, and in the restaurant I work in, we totally use a mini blow torch on our creme brulees. ;)

  4. And a happy birthday from me too! I confess, when I first saw what this post was about, I thought, “Oh no, a little off topic” but I wound up loving every word. This is such a nice idea & it makes me feel like I should write letters like this to all the important people in my life. Also, I’m still laughing from the John Hughes movie photograph & write-up.

  5. Kate – I am a huge fan, and have never commented until today. I had to because… it’s my “little” sister’s birthday too!

    Wishing her a wonderful day, and the same to you :)

  6. HOW sweet is this post, love it !!!

    Happy B’day to your sister :)•:*¨ ♪♫♪♫ ¨¨*:•.* •:*¨ ♪♫♪♫ ¨¨*:•.•:*¨ ♪♫♪♫ ¨¨*:•.*•:*¨ ♪♫♪♫ ¨¨*:•.*
    •:*¨ ♪♫♪♫ ¨¨*:•.* •:*¨ ♪♫♪♫ ¨¨*:•.•:*¨ ♪♫♪♫ ¨¨*:•.*•:*¨ ♪♫♪♫ ¨¨*:•.*

    Kathy :)

  7. I also have a little sister. Nothing beats it. Pretty incredible thing. Every time I think I am okay with three kids I feel like I have to go for four (two girls and two boys) so everyone can have a sister and a brother. I feel like I would be robbing my daughter of one of life’s greatest gifts if I didn’t giver her a sister!

  8. What a wonderful way to honor your sister on her special day. Happy Birthday to your sister! Love the photo of the two of you. You look a lot alike and are both beautiful women.

  9. Yaaaay! This is the best gift ever! I woke up laughing this morning thinking of John Hughes. THANK YOU!

  10. Beautiful post Kate. I am so jealous…wish I had even just one sister. I got stuck with four brothers! I have two girls of my own who are now 10 and 17. Today they hate each other but I’m hopeful that there is a bond of sisterhood beneath it all that will evolve as they mature! Thanks for sharing.

  11. You two are fortunate to have each other, and it sounds like you know that! Glad you posted this!

  12. That was an amazing post. You and your sister have an extraordinary relationship and so many wonderful memories. Thank you sooooooooo much for sharing your letter.

  13. This is SO cute and so sweet…made me say “awwww” and laugh several times. I wish I had a sister as well. What a wonderful tribute to your sister.

  14. This was such a wonderful post and it is not off-topic at all – it IS about something happening in your life, something that makes your heart go pitter-patter, something diy (blow torch was it?), some eye-candy, and simply….centsational! I’m your fan! – any chance of making a trip over here?

  15. Beautiful. How luck you are to have each other. My family quotes lines from films and to this day we still say “Potato?” “I don’t (from Blackadder and “Merry New Year!!” from Trading places. It takes a sibling to really ‘get’ that.

    Happy birthday to your sister. Kisses to you both for making me smile so much.XXX

  16. I have an *older* sister too! Isn’t it funny how the bickering from childhood years can turn into such a strong bond? My sis and I still have our moments, but I can talk to her like nobody else. :) Happy (belated) birthday to your sister!

  17. Great post Kate. A very Happy B’day to your sister. I have an older sister too and your post just made me shed a tear or two. Nothing like having a sister!!

  18. So sweet! I have that sister, 2 actually~! And you have totally inspired me to look for pictures and thank her on her birthday. THANK YOU!

  19. Wow…you look so much like your daughter in that pic where you are feeding your baby sister.

  20. Happy Birthday to your sister! This is a beautiful post, it brought tears to my eyes. I lost my baby sister to a vehicle accident in 1976. I have thought of her every day since. When I see
    the closeness and love of some sisters, it makes me very, very happy. You are blessed to have each other. God bless you both and keep loving each other forever!

  21. Love,Love Love it! I have 2 sisters and we sound/are just as crazy when around each other! Just not around each other often enough though.

  22. Aw man! Makes me miss my sister. She has been gone for almost 11 years.

    Such a sweet tribute.

  23. What a cool letter. Micky D was my boyfriend, too–only I go back to the 60s! (I was very young.)

  24. I KNEW! you were a firstborn…ha, not because I am one (I am the youngest of 6!!) but because I am in awe people like you (often the firsts) who work so hard and accomplish so much! This was such a sweet letter to your sister, what a blessing to have at least one of those! And my sister is so convincing that I thought I really was in love with Mickey D., while she had Davey Jones all to herself!

  25. All I ever wanted was a sister!
    and you have one, with the relationship that I allways dreamed of!
    you are so lucky! enjoy evevry minute you have together.

  26. I just got caught up on my reading and had to tell you how beautiful this is Kate..You are so lucky to be this close to your sister..and by the way..Davy Jones lives a few miles down the road from me and yes I have met and talked to him..He is still cute..just an older version of cute..Hugs and joy to you and your sister..

  27. This is a great tribute Kate to your “older” sister. I’m sure she will treasure it forever.

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