Today, Easter Sunday, my little grandniece is being dedicated in church. A feeble attempt at wisdom from a doting uncle.
This is your uncle and aunt speaking. As they say in the vernacular: Yo, listen up.
We held you on the day you were born. We drove all night to be with you and, wow, was it worth it! We were awestruck by how amazing you were on Day 1. We have yet to lose that feeling. We don’t think we ever will.
We are so looking forward to watching you grow up and being a part of your life. Living more than 600 miles away is starting to get rough. We see a lot of driving in our future. Hmm, it might be time to buy a new Haydenmobile.
So what do we wish for your future? Every good thing in life. Too many things to list. But on the day of your dedication, we’d like to mention a few of the really important ones.
We wish you never-ending wonder. You are already well on your way to this goal. We cannot help noticing how much you enjoy colors and shapes and playing with your mobiles. Keep going on your journey of discovery, Hayden. We hope you remain curious about everything the world has to offer. Never stop asking questions, even the really hard ones. When you ask us why the sky is blue, you will send us scurrying to the encyclopedia, er, we mean to the Internet. When you ask us where babies come from, we will change the subject. We are looking forward to this roller coaster ride. Buckle up.
We wish you education and learning. Yes, we started a college fund for you on the day you were born, but not all learning occurs in school. We hope you become a reader, that you read every book you can get your hands on, both the good ones and the bad ones. It won’t take long before you know the difference. We hope you cultivate a love of words and this amazing English language of ours. We hope the dictionary becomes your best friend, but we promise not to send you there when you ask us what a word means or how it is spelled.
We wish you abundance. That is a pretty big word that means: May you never lack for anything. Abundance is not measured by dollars, or by how many toys you have, or anything like that. Abundance is measured by how much good stuff you can fit into your heart. Just remember: There is always room for more. We hope you have an endless capacity for love.
We wish you friends. May you experience many deep and long-lasting friendships throughout the years. We hope you become friends with people your own age, with old folks like us, with Abby Cadabby and Winnie the Pooh and Harry Potter. When you find friendship, cultivate it, nurture it and cherish it always. For it is friendship that will color your life in rainbow hues and season it with the most delicate of flavors.
We wish you fulfillment on whichever of life’s roads you choose. We hope you do what you love and love what you do. Life is like a great big fitting room, Hayden: Pick what is beautiful and try it on for size. If it doesn’t fit, try something else. And when you find the one that fits perfectly, don’t look at the price tag.
We hope you remain sensitive to the needs of others, even when they are very different from your own needs. Be kind to everyone, even when it’s really hard because they’re not being very nice. Do not turn away from those less fortunate than yourself; they may never have had the advantages that you do. Give of yourself. Share your riches. For you shall reap rewards far greater than anything you give.
Be brave and fearless. As the Nike ads say, just do it. Don’t become jaded. Never let the word “can’t” creep into your vocabulary. Don’t let the naysayers get you down. They’re wrong, you know.
Stand up for what you believe in, cry out against injustice, do something, Hayden. Do something good and right and awe-inspiring. Speak your mind. Take action. Be bold and keep God at your side always.
We wish you peace. As the years go by, may you look back in contentment at your many accomplishments and smile. Do not harbor regrets. Always try to do more and be more, but also be satisfied with everything you’ve already been and done.
We wish you appreciation of beauty. May you be in awe of the sunset, may you count the raindrops on your window pane, may you stand on the beach and be mesmerized by the vastness of the ocean and its crashing waves. As the Leeann Womack song says, we hope you dance. And we hope you sing, play a musical instrument, draw, paint, write poetry and keep a journal. We hope you find beauty not only in the great works of art, but also in the everyday — in your reflection in a puddle, in the whistle of a passing train, in the smile of a stranger, in the flower that pushes its way up between the cracks in the sidewalk.
And we hope you laugh. Laugh often and long. Don’t take yourself too seriously, Hayden. Find humor in your daily life. Stop to smell the roses. Take a picture with your iPhone. Tell a story.
We wish you gratitude. Sure, your parents will teach you to be polite and say “thank you.” But when you say “thank you,” really mean it. Appreciate your talents and share them with others. Count your blessings on a regular basis.
Be reverent. Praise God every day for your many gifts, as we praise Him for the gift you are to us. Pray. As the Bible teaches us, pray without ceasing. There will always be people who will make fun of you because of your beliefs, who will belittle the fact that you pray, that you trust in the Lord. There will always be small-minded, mean-spirited people who will try to bring you down, Hayden. Pray for them.
What other advice can we give you, dear Hayden? Brush your teeth every day. Use sunscreen. Eat your vegetables. Stay healthy. Take good care of yourself so you can love your neighbor as yourself. Oh, and text your uncle and aunt once in a while. We may be old fuddy-duddies who live way out in the middle of the desert and don’t understand your music, your lingo or your passions, but we love you.
So, as we say in Hebrew, shalom. Um, that means “peace, out.”