This is exactly what I needed!
Updated: Feb 5, 2022
Sunday night, we held our usual birthday-dinner gathering. As you will see, it was fun for all. Our grandkids love getting together. When they gather, they talk nonstop, share their latest adventures, tease each other, and laugh a lot—sometimes uncontrollably. Such was the case this Sunday.
The opening event for dinner is the monthly Egan Clam Dip. As the various families and friends gather, they head directly to the kitchen island, where the clam dip is strategically placed for access and opening conversations. If a family or cousin arrives late, the dip may be gone. The dip is a great incentive for getting to the dinner on time or even a little early.
We plan the dinners so they are not a burden for any family. We make food assignments in advance. On this go-around, Diane and I provided the roast beef. Mary and Ryan provided the baked potatoes. Amy and Scott provided the clam dip and fixings for the baked potatoes. Marcia and David made a beautiful green salad. Dan, Kristin, and their family were sick. In their absence, Diane and I made five cakes, two of which were successful. We also brought the ice cream and birthday candles for the celebration.
Always, I am struck by what happens when we gather. There is a lot of hugging, smiling, and spontaneous conversations. Cousins often gather in groups corresponding to their ages. Of course, there is usually some overlap between the age groups. They learn about first kisses, recent dates, music preferences, ongoing school events, and much, much more. It is a kind of education that is natural, motivational, informal, and very informative.
For the grandchildren or parents whose birthdays we are celebrating, the party's highlight is the birthday letters. As you will observe, the purposes of these letters are many. First and foremost, they recognize recent achievements or growth. These might include recognition for past successes in school, athletics, or other parts of their lives. Sometimes they provide counsel or encouragement for specific growth-related activities. Often the central themes of these letters are expressions of love and gratitude for the good people they are becoming. I've included a few for your review.
Birthday Letter to a Grandson
We love being your grandparents. Thanks for being so loving and kind to us. We know that we can always count on a hug from you. Also, thanks for working hard to become the kind of boy who is kind to friends, kind to parents, and kind to brothers and sisters.
You have been blessed with many talents. You are very coordinated. Your hands, eyes, legs, and arms work well together. You can do almost anything with a ball—football, basketball, tennis ball, etc. You are also a good runner.
Most of all, we hope you will be a good sport and a good learner. Be alert in listening to your coaches, parents, and teachers. Adults will do almost anything for a boy or girl who listens, is polite, and is a good learner/worker.
Being a good sport means being fair, keeping the rules, not hurting others, and playing hard but fairly.
Finally, a very happy birthday to you. We love you so much!
Grandpa Winn and Grandma Linda
Birthday Letter to a Granddaughter
Twenty-five years old—how does one become this old or this mature? How could you possibly be two-score and five years old? And how could I be almost 80 years old? Aging is simply an ongoing, continuous process. It happens whether we like it or not. The time/age clock is always ticking.
Someone brighter than I said something like this: "Everyone gets the same amount of time each day, each month, and each year." Consequently, time favors those who use it the most wisely. Thank you for using your 25 years for growing, building enduring relationships, helping others, finding a terrific companion, developing your faith, and using your talents to bless others.
One of your most extraordinary talents is the light that emanates from you. It is one of your best assets. Consider this sacred statement:
The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. (New Testament, Matthew 6: 22)
"The light of the body is the eye." I am thankful for the light that radiates from you. Also, I am grateful you seek to understand His glory and replace darkness with light. Lights need rest and sometimes new energy sources. Take time to give your light circuitry appropriate rests and reprieves. You need not be a lighthouse all the time.
Thank you for appropriately pacing yourself, not running faster than you have strength. The turtle and the hare story is relevant here. The most effective individuals are the toilers and not the sprinters. The race of life is mostly a marathon, not a sprint. Said another way—pacing in many pursuits is the key to success. Pace yourself using the gifts given to you. I know you will be inspired in choosing your life strategies for growing to the end.
When I write these birthday letters, I often reflect on the past, the present, and the future of our lives together. I know I have many years left, but not as many as I had when you first came to our house for some babysitting. I intend to profit from the light that has its source in you. Also, I am counting on you to use this marvelous gift in blessing your own families, yours and Mica's.
I love you through and through. Thank you for contributing to my well-being. I love seeing you and being part of your life. I am so sorry I was not that helpful in readying your new home for your habitation. However, I guess you have not seen the last of my painting skills. Remember, I am a consummate “cutter-inner,” “laying-it-off” specialist, and nose painter.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to an adorable, bright, loving, honest, beautiful, and light-emanating granddaughter, wife, and companion. I love being one of your oldest and "bestest" friends. Keep growing! Keep loving! And keep the—you know what!
If you want to try this idea, please make these letters your own. I have provided these letters simply to plant a seed to get you thinking and motivated to consider this practice. Use your own language. Be authentic! Your letters may be shorter or longer. Consider these questions: What do you want to recognize or praise? What simple advice do you wish to give, if any? What genuine feelings of love do you want to express?
Of course, we light the birthday candles, sing happy birthday, and then dish up the ice cream and cake—no gifts—except the carefully prepared birthday letters.
As our recent birthday dinner came to a close, the granddaughter who received her letter said this: "This is exactly what I needed. Thank you so much."