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By Sally Torbey

Hope for a thaw between sisters

Uploaded: Feb 27, 2014

How auspicious to release the movie, "Frozen", during a winter when most of the US is shivering and shoveling? For moviegoers suffering through frigid temperatures, slick sidewalks, and drifts of accumulated snow, the personification of the polar vortex as an icy sorceress is very convincing. My eldest daughter, who is surviving her first "real" Midwestern winter, felt panicked and traumatized watching the movie. It is not escapist fair for folks who are wearing long underwear and puffy coats, but a harsh reminder of the weather awaiting them outside the theater.

For me, the movie was auspicious in that I saw it seated between my pre-teen and teenage daughters. I am hopeful that the movie, with its uplifting music and message of the power of sisterly love, might prompt a thaw between them, as their relationship has entered a complicated phase of differing needs and expectations, as well as rivalry.

The relationship of the princesses in the movie reminded me of the trajectory of our daughters' relationship. For many years they were devoted to each other, the toddler adoringly stroking the baby's hand on the car ride home from the hospital, soothing her with a whispering lisp, "don't cwy (sic), baby". They were inseparable playmates spending countless hours playing house, trains or felt storyboards. The younger was bereft when the older went off to school. But now the elder is a teenager with more interest in privacy than play. In the movie, the plaintive song of the younger sister, "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" resonated with me and had me tearing up. It did not help that the personalities of the two sisters in the movie remind me of my daughters, the older sister is serious and reserved, while the younger sister is impetuous and social.

But I love that, despite all evidence to the contrary, the younger sister does not give up on re-establishing a relationship with her older sister. Even after the older one sets an abominable snowman on her! What parent of a teenager cannot identify with such a monster of wrath and irritability? The younger sister persists in part because of her pal, Olaf, the goofy and devoted snowman that was also her sister's creation, and evidence of the love of which she is still capable, but too afraid to let herself feel since she cannot control the icy results of her emotions. In the end, it is through the younger sister's devotion and self-sacrifice that the older sister learns she can "Let it Go", but still control her emotions and powers, and reengage with the world.

I hope through this compelling story, my daughters understand that the relationship of sisters can survive the challenge of ages and stages of life, and, with effort, reemerge stronger.