I’m not quite sure why parents write letters to their children. You’re illiterate. If you weren’t, you still wouldn’t know what ‘illiterate’ means. Or ‘quite’. I’m fairly confident in your grasp of ‘why’.
Yet I’m compelled to write something, say something, about your third birthday. I like odd numbers; three is my favorite. Schoolhouse Rocky says it’s a magic number…No, not witchcraft. It’s a metaphor. Like a similie, except…look, we’ve been through this. Don’t start quoting Bible passages at me!
I like three because it implies order and balance; unless you’re talking about a three-year-old boy. There’s a point, a focus, from which everything hangs.
The obvious and most important example, of course, is the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I hesitate to say ‘ghost’, because by now you’ve seen an episode or two of Scooby-Doo. God can do better than an unfitted sheet with eye-holes. And he doesn’t run an amusement park.
This particular number is the most important in your life. If you
forget ignore everything I teach you, and even if you’re skeptical, please remember this. The love, happiness, and acceptance you’re looking for will always be found in God, and in Christ. It will be complete and constant, and all else will disappoint. Listen to your father.
The more tangible three is our family: me, your mother, and you. Your mother loves you fiercely, and will protect and help you in whatever way she can. She doesn’t brook stupidity or back-talk, in that order, and will make sure you know when you’ve crossed a line. It helps if you make her laugh.
I’m your biggest fan. I will be disproportionately proud of everything you do, and make sure the world is kept abreast of every step you take. I will intentionally embarrass you in public, and in front of your friends. But you’ll never doubt that I love you, even if you’re not sure that I like you. It helps if you make me laugh.
Your mother and I will both love you, no matter what. If you’re happy, and living your life for the glory of God, then we’ll be happy, too.
Certain people, who may or may not be named Grandpa Gilbert, would like you to have a sibling or five. For now, it’s just you. You were born three years ago; the experience was quite surprising, despite the fact that your birth was induced. (That means you were evicted. Your mother is a harsh landlord.) One minute I was eating a pastrami-on-rye in the hospital cafeteria, the next you were screaming in my face.
Since then, you’ve taught me so much that I don’t think I can ever repay the favor. Because of you, I now have a better understanding of family, of God, of priorities and perspectives. We have a lot of fun.
Your other three is actually six: three grandfathers, three grandmothers. Your grandmothers will give you hugs, chocolate milk, and stern looks. Your grandfathers will do anything you want, and teach you to throw a baseball. Your mother and I are who we are because of who they are. Listen to them and call them once a month. Remind me to call them.
You also have two Aunts and one Uncle. (No, I didn’t forget Uncle Corey, but he’s an in-law, and throws off my threes.) These are the people who will tell you when to ignore me, and who will provide you with cousins, who are always best at convincing you to do things you shouldn’t.
Finally, you have three cats. They’re cats.
Like I said, three is a fairly important number in your life. Remember your threes, and remember how much love is in that number. Happy Birthday, Ian!