There were two great things about being taller than my older sister by age five.
- She couldn’t beat me up anymore.
- I didn’t have to wear her hand-me-downs.
Instead, I got a new dress for the first day of kindergarten. My parents actually asked what color I wanted. I wore that dress at least twice a week until my growth spurts made it into a crop top.
Big Brother, however, was still tall enough to hand down items. It wasn’t until second grade that I got my own winter coat in faux blue fur, with white trim and a massive hood. My siblings told me I looked like a Star Wars Jawa; I ignored them because I knew I was a snow princess and they were just jealous.
The first three cars I drove were used car hand-me-downs from older siblings.
When I finally bought my own new car? I was high on the new car, no-one-else-owned-this-but me smell for months.
When I moved across the country, I bought new furniture. From Ikea.
By the time I married, much of furniture I’d spent so long putting together had fallen apart. A sofa arm had been shredded by one cat. My box spring had been shredded by the other. I’d been in multiple car accidents and found that registration fees and insurance get cheaper as your car gets older.
When I learned my Chinese-American husband had gotten his couch when a neighbor died, I shrugged and put a slipcover on it.
I was pregnant when Baby Sister got engaged and moved to California with her boyfriend. She and her boyfriend rented a U-haul for their stuff. I offered her cash to bring my old bed and any family furniture various older siblings or parental units didn’t want.
She arrived with a chair, dresser, secretary, two infant carseats, a stroller, a crib, a baby swing, a vibrating baby chair, a portable crib, and twelves boxes of baby and toddler clothes.
It was hard to say whether my frugal husband was more delighted with our hand-me-down haul or whether I was.
When Baby D was born, the only thing we had to shop for were diapers. Score.
Unlike me, my older sister had the holy grail of in-laws: the doting grandma who followed my sister’s childcare rules and also sewed. Doting Grandma made First Niece adorable Halloween costumes. Older Sister shared First Niece’s pictures online, garnering thousands of likes each year.
My own mother was dead (and she was seriously crap at sewing when she was alive). I wasn’t remotely crafty. I figured Baby D was doomed to mass produced costumes.
Until a special box arrived the week before Halloween from my older sister.
The greatest hand-me-down I ever got.