I’m not sure why I picked up pen and paper that day. I think it was because my heart was so full of love, I felt like it could burst. I needed an outlet to express my wonder. There I sat, in a bed in Piedmont Hospital, and my life had just changed forever.
A few hours earlier, I had given birth to my first (and only) child. 5 pounds, 13 ounces of a precious baby girl. She was born quickly, just 30 minutes after our arrival at the hospital. (Please, don’t hate me.)
The birth of a child is awe-inspiring. Whether it's a child or grandchild who has entered the world, it’s impossible not to say “Wow, God.” A living, breathing miracle.
That morning, I wanted to express my gratitude to God and tell my infant daughter how loved and welcomed she was. Mary might have been able to just treasure things in her heart. (Luke 2:19) I needed to write them down!
And so began my favorite birthday tradition: writing an annual birthday letter to my daughter. I just completed Letter #27. (It should be Letter #28 for her 27th birthday, but I missed writing a letter for her second birthday. Hey, nobody's perfect!)
Psalm 78:4 states: “We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, His power, and the wonders He has done.” That’s my goal with each birthday letter I write: to remember and reflect on God’s faithfulness in her life over the course of the previous year.
Whether you are a parent or grandparent, I’d encourage you to begin this meaningful annual tradition. It’s never too late to begin.
Here what I include in the letter:
-The ways I have seen God’s faithfulness and blessing in her life over the previous year. The “Wow, God” moments. And there have been many, every single year.
-The aspects of her character that I cherish. As I affirm those positive attributes, I explain where I have seen them in action.
-I express my love and gratitude for her and my prayers, hopes and dreams for the coming year of her life.
For many years, I would just write the birthday letter and put it in a file. I knew when the time was right, I’d give her the letters. But for that year, I just didn’t want to forget.
When Anne was about to turn 20, she was headed to Uganda for four months of volunteer work. Her birthday would occur once she was overseas. I wracked my brain trying to think of how to send her a birthday remembrance that year, knowing the likelihood of any package sent being stolen. Then, a lightbulb went off! The birthday letters! I made a pretty cover and took my whole file of letters to an office supply store and had them bound with a coil. Then I wrapped the birthday letters and put them in her suitcase with the instructions to open the package on her birthday.
I’m not sure how many times those letters were read and re-read during those lonely and challenging months she was in Uganda, but my guess is “more than a few!”
The next year, she was back at college. I mailed her the 21st birthday letter. And in the letter, I said:“this will probably be the last of these letters that I write now that you’re away from home.” When we talked later that day, as she thanked me for the letter, she emphatically added: “Mom, please don’t ever stop writing those letters! I love them!”
So I have happily continued the tradition! Even though we have lived hundreds of miles apart for most of her post-college years, the contents of the letter come easily. I continue to be awed by God’s faithfulness in her life, and I continue to see her grow and thrive from across the miles. I joyfully affirm her positive character qualities and am delighted to share my deep love for her and my hopes, prayers and dreams for her future.
What about you? Could you begin writing an annual birthday letter to a child or grandchild? It’s never too late.
And someday, when you’re gone, think about what you’ll leave behind: a history of God’s faithfulness in that child’s life. What better birthday gift could there be?