“You know what the secret is? It’s so simple. We love one another. We’re nice to one another. Do you know how rare that is?”

-Ann Brashares, “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”

I am blessed to have “friends” who are actually my family. I have written countless times about how #FriendshipIsThickerThanBlood and about the power of friendship. How my friends got me through my darkest of days and have made my happy days that much sweeter.

In recent months, my friends and I have laughed until we cried, cried until we couldn’t cry anymore, held each others’ hands, held each others’ babies and eaten cupcakes off of the floor. Ok, that last one may have just been me, but I couldn’t have done it without my friends (who baked the cupcakes and found me on my kitchen floor, laughing so hard that I couldn’t breathe, covered in frosting).

This month last year my bestie since first grade gave me the ultimate gift: She made me an Aunt. When my little niecey was born, I felt a love for her instantly, like she was (she is) my own.

And for the past year, we have raised our kids as cousins. I can hardly type this without crying, once more.

Some of my dearest friends have children already, and some of my other “sisters” have not yet taken that plunge, but that first grade friend of mine came up with the greatest idea ever when it comes to sharing as a real family:

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Clothing.

I have been the fortunate recipient of amazing baby clothing when I had both of my kids, and so I was thrilled to pass along my daughter’s best things to my best friends, but we also wanted to make sure that everything stayed “within the family”. I want to make sure that I have my old dresses to give to my little sister when the time comes.

So, we made a pact, much like the girls in the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” books:

We wouldn’t individually label our kids’ clothing, but, instead, we would label everything with the word “Sisterhood”.

Our children will wear things until they outgrow them, and then they will be passed on to the next child, and the next, and the next and back again, all within our family.

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The coolest thing is when I see my niece in the clothing that I treasured on my daughter, so many years ago.

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So far, he doesn’t get a lot of clothing play here, but sometimes my little guy even gets to get in on the action. Especially when Hemingway is involved.

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The Sisterhood is great for so many obvious reasons (it is practical, it makes it harder to be a hoarder…) but more than the clothing that they are wearing, it is the bond that our kids are sharing that is stunning beyond words.

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They are cousins, who don’t really know what life is like without each other. And as our family continues to grow, as more babies are added, so will the immense pool of love

(and pile of clothing).

I have quoted this before and I will write it again,

“The most important thing in life is your family…in the end, they’re the people you always come home to. Sometimes it’s the family you’re born into and sometimes it’s the one you make for yourself.”

Thank you, once again, Sex and the City.

We have made one hell of a family for ourselves.

To paraphrase the prologue of Sisterhood,

Sometimes it seems like we’re so close we form one single complete person rather than individual separate ones.

I know that without my family I would not be complete.

I have my sisters who are there for me any time I need to talk (that is all of them),

the sisters who shake my shoulders to give me tough love when I so desperately need it,

the sisters who remind me to take care of myself every day,

the sisters who just hug me and let me cry,

the sisters who use emojis

and the sisters who don’t,

the sisters whom I can text message to ask them to pick up hot cocoa, or a storage bin from Home Goods,

or my kid from school.

I hope that as they grow, this new generation of sisters and brothers can just feel as warm and united under this tapestry of love that we have woven for them.

And I hope that as my little niece gets a bit older and starts picking out outfits of her own, that she recognizes that “sisterhood” label in the tag of a dress and chooses it, because it makes her think of her big cousin, whom she wants to be like.

So bundle up in those winter jackets, little ones. Run around and play in those shorts and get them muddy. Each one of you is adding to the story of these pieces of clothing, but, really, to our family album,

which we will each cherish,

always and forever.

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