Surviving the Holidays as the Older Sibling

Photo by Jennifer King

Photo by Jennifer King

Being the older sister is typically always the shit. You’re older, smarter, and meaner than your siblings. You get to do all the cool stuff you’ve always wanted to do first, like actually cross the street and go to Subway by yourself just for the cookies. And all of your old teachers will call your little sister by your name by accident, but never the other way around.

They’re basically doomed to live in your shadow, which is delicious.

But during the holidays, there are a few things that make being the oldest a rough time. So, in the spirit of the season, here are the most unbearable parts of the holidays when you’re the eldest child.

Playing Along With The Whole Santa Thing

A lot of people associate Christmas with innocence. Maybe it’s the decorative angels or Jesus or all of the mind-numbing songs and movies, but Christmas is presented as something that should be savored in our youth. And since the younger sibling is always an infant in the eyes of their parents (at least in my house), it becomes everyone’s general mission to save the baby of the family from realizing the truth about Christmas: it’s a corporatized, material holiday in honor of a baby who wasn’t even born in winter.

This means that as the wiser, older, and funnier sibling, the worst thing you could do is tell your cherubic sister or brother that Santa isn’t real. When I was little, there was just something about seeing my sister so excited about the tree and the cookies and the presents that made me want to ruin it all for her. But of course, my parents wouldn’t let that happen without turning me out to the snow. Keeping my mouth shut through all of my childhood Decembers is likely one of the hardest things little me ever had to do.

The Gift Gap

I hate to be a brat about this, but what the fuck. How is it that the babies always get more presents? And sure, Christmas isn’t about gifts, we should keep the Christ in Christmas, sugarplums and rolling white hills, etc. But as already apparent, that’s not really my jam. All hail Krampus.

Anyway, somehow my sister always managed to get extra gifts. We never really got anything extravagant or expensive, but that’s not the point.

And she still makes such a scene about opening her presents—and by that I mean she opens them at a painfully slow pace. Even when we do get the same number of gifts, you’d never know it because it takes her three times as long to get through them. By the times she’s finished it’s practically New Year’s. And then we have to sit through her living room fashion show where she shows off and meticulously critiques every article of clothing she just got.

Wait…Do My Relatives Hate Me?

We don’t have any cousins, so my abuela can only brutally compare me to my own sister.

“Oh it’s so nice to see you! Merry Christmas! Why don’t you call me as much as your sister does? You know, I might not make it to next Christmas. Now I know who loves me most. Call me tomorrow if I’m still breathing, God willing.”

That is a direct Spanish-to-English translation for any of you assuming it’s a comedic exaggeration.

Photo by Jennifer King

Photo by Jennifer King

Being Judged at the Dinner Table


Having a flawless younger sibling can be tough; while the fact that they are faultless probably makes it a lot easier to get along with them, it also makes you a lot less perfect in the eyes of others. You are doomed to be compared to your sibling in all aspects of life until the day you die—and holiday gatherings are no exception.

Did you wait for your younger sibling to say grace or is your face already leaking mashed potatoes? Was your plate piled higher with food than your brother’s? You probably need to control your appetite better. On the other hand, if your sister took a bigger plate of than you did, you should be more respectful and show how much you love the meal. If you’re drinking wine/beer/spiked egg nog, your sibling is probably sticking to water.

And just wait until everyone starts asking you about your last semester away at school or your job. Whether it’s your GPA, finals, or your inability to find a “real” job, your sibling probably already has it covered. Someone’s got to give the family elders some hope for the future.

Plus, if they don’t have it covered just yet, at least they have you as an example of how not to be a successful adult. How would they know how to be the best if they didn’t see you at your worst first?

No wonder they’re so perfect. Forget stocking stuffers; my sister can give me a “thank you” this year.