Friday, March 11, 2011

Birthday Letters

Yesterday I dug into our lock box to find Glenn's pin for his FAFSA and I saw the kid's birthday letters. Lydia's birthday was just a couple weeks ago and I knew that we hadn't gotten her 7th birthday letter out but I didn't realize that we hadn't read Caleb's 10th (from July), Hannah's 8th (from August) or Abigail's 5th (from November) either. Birthday letters are a fun Nelson family tradition. At baby showers for Nelson babies we write letters to the soon to be born babies giving them advice, telling funny stories from when we were that age, explaining milestones that they would probably be reaching in the year to come, or explaining what is going on in the world or their lives at the time they wrote the letters. I always love reading the kids' birthday letters with them. The girl's birthday letters were all written for them after they were born (around their 1st birthdays) so people knew a bit about them but Caleb's are more generic because when his were written at my family shower a month before he was born we didn't even know if we were having a boy or a girl. 

Birthday letters are treasures. Sometimes we have to explain who wrote the letters and what part they had in our lives at the time that the letters were written. I love Lydia's letters because she has letters from both sides of the family written when some of Glenn's family came in for his graduation from Houghton. I love getting a chance to read stories from his grandpas' childhoods that I never heard growing up. Since the envelopes are closed we never know until when we open them who they are from (unless the writer decided to decorate the outside somehow). I am sometimes slightly apprehensive opening birthday letters not knowing whether they may be from a loved one who has passed on (like Caleb's 4th birthday letter from my mom.) There is joy in that too because having those letters is like a message of hope from beyond the grave. Looking at Caleb's always gives me a little ache in my heart because my mom wrote the numbers on all his envelopes. How I miss getting notes in her handwriting!

The letters we opened yesterday were fun. Here are some excerpts:

* Caleb's was from my friend Cindy from high school. She told of some of our high school Bible study (Addicted to Jesus) and told him that he is a gift from God and that the Lord is his Father who will guide his life everyday.
* Hannah's was from my Aunt AmyJo. She talked about some of the great things about being an 8 year old girl – “tea parties, pretty pictures, hand picked flowers and helping Mom,” asked if she had accepted Jesus as her Savior and asked if she was thinking about getting baptized. She shared her favorite verse (Jer.29:11) and asked her to be sure to give Glenn a wet willy.
* Lydia's was from my Grandpa Ed. “This is a little advice from your 80 year old Grandpa Nelson – seven years from now I maybe with the Lord only because I accepted Jesus as my Savior – I am Grandpa Roger's Father- I don't know what your world will be like when you open this letter – but I do know that if you have accepted Jesus as your Savior – All things will work together for you for all of your life – May the Lord give you the best in the years to come. All my love to you Grandpa Ed Nelson” Little did he know when he wrote this letter on Lydia's 1st birthday that he would still be alive on when we opened it on her 7th and my dad would be in glory.
* Abigail's was from my Aunt Joy. She told her that she hopes she loves school and reading. “A good reader is a good speller. So read, read, read...” Aunt Joy told her “I love your name – It means 'source of joy.' That makes you close to my heart.”

Is it any wonder that we look on these letters are treasures? Is it any wonder that I store them in our fireproof lockbox? When they are out of the lock box I am usually begged to read them over and over again, all of the from the first to whatever age they just turned. I am so thankful for this tradition. I have tried to encourage other to do it as well. I had birthday letters growing up and I remember loving them. We were never prompt with opening them so we usually opened 2-3 each when they were pulled out but they were fun. I think that they were probably burned or landfilled when we were emptying my parents' house which is sad but I am glad that I have the ones written for our kids.

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