My parents really outdid themselves during the Christmas of ’95, because they gave me the greatest gift you could possibly imagine: my first sibling, and my first friend.
Today my favorite present turned 2o years old. Now, declaring a favorite present is a bold statement, especially coming from someone who considers gifts to be her love language.
So, what makes this present so great?
Because this present has been my lifelong friend.
We used to play cops and robbers, making loud, whooping siren sounds as we raced across the backyard, hot on the tails of the “bad guys,” chasing them down and throwing them in jail.
To this day, he still helps me spot the bad guys.
We used to play fire fighters, clutching the fat, green garden hose between our chubby pink fingers as we extinguished the flames engulfing “jungle gym city.”
To this day, he still has my back when everything goes up in smoke.
We used to climb Everest, braving the snowy playground sledding hills with chattering teeth, catching each other with mitten-clad hands every time one of us started to backslide.
To this day, he still reaches out whenever I start going down hill.
We used play princes and princesses, twirling in the living room, and doing our best not to step on each other’s toes during the less-than-graceful moments of our dance routines.
To this day, he reminds me to be gracious to others when they make mistakes.
We used to play Olympic ice-dancers, strapping paper plates our feet and skating across the cool, hard tile floors of the kitchen, bouncing back to our feet whenever we collided.
To this day, he reminds me to pick myself back up when I fall.
I used to sit in my cherry-printed lawn chair at his elementary football games, cheering wildly into the autumn air as he tackled his opponents into the field’s dark green grass.
To this day, he teaches me to appreciate the gifts of others.
Over the past twenty years, Tommy has been teaching me valuable lifelong lessons, like patience (when he clutched clumps of blonde hair in his tiny toddler fists),
inhibition (when he walked to school in shorts throughout the entire month of January, facing the critical commentary provided by the neighborhood crossing guard), and joy (collapsing into a pile of giggles at the circus upon seeing one of the monkeys dressed in a shimmery green tuxedo).
So here’s to wishing the merriest and brightest of birthdays to a boy who has been a gift not only to me, but to many others.
Happy Birthday, Tommy Doles!