Dear Jack, Max, Charlie and Isaac,
On this Christmas Day, there is one more of you to love than at the same time last year. In some ways it’s incredible to think how different life is now from just 12 short months ago, when a fourth baby wasn’t on the horizon. And in other ways, it seems like we’ve somehow arrived together at a destination we’ve all been traveling toward together over the last decade, even before any of you were here.
Ten years ago tonight, when Mom and I knew our first baby was about four months away, we had no way to know where the next decade would lead. But standing here now, looking back and also facing our future, I am simply overcome with a feeling of being blessed. Each one of you is a precious, indescribable gift. That I’m able to be your father, and that Mom and I are able to be partners in this wild journey, are at once all I ever wanted and yet far beyond my wildest dreams.
Life may be a lot different if and when you all grow up and have your own families. But let me tell you how it worked for me in 2013: On Christmas Eve we went to church with Pops and K. All throughout the sanctuary were some of our dearest friends and other important members of our faith family. And on Christmas morning, in quiet moments trying to get Isaac to nap, I spent some time on Facebook seeing how friends from different parts of the past and present were marking the holiday.
The pictures of expectant mothers and older siblings getting ready to welcome a new baby next year. My peers struggling through the first holiday season without a beloved father. Newly single parents trying to establish new Christmas traditions and numb the pain of divorce. Brave souls facing the inevitably of aging and disease. Couples married earlier this year posing in front of their first tree as husband and wife. Other parents brave enough to raise four kids. People who desperately want to be parents but encounter challenge after challenge. Families together on Christmas for the first time in years. Families trying to celebrate together despite being separated by many time zones.
Love is all around, especially on a day designed to celebrate the love God has for all people, but there are some situations where it’s harder for that love to break down the walls we build. And honestly, there are times throughout days like today where I just feel guilty for the simple pleasure of hugging one of you and letting you know you’re loved. I wish I could convey to you know how special these moments really are, to convince you to enjoy them fully because we’re not promised tomorrow, but that’s the kind of lesson I haven’t learned to teach.
So here’s the deal: I’m going to do my best to make sure you know you are loved. I will try to live my life in gratitude for everything God has done for me, and along the way I’ll attempt to give you an example of someone who pursues love and peace. It’s beyond cliché by now, but you all make me want to be a better person — and I want to inspire you to unlock every ounce of potential you have to make this world a better place.
Being a dad is amazing. Being your dad is beyond wonderful. To God be the glory.
A prayer for December 25:
Lord, thank you for my family. Thank you for the promise Jesus brings and the freedom to live fully in peace your love provides. May we all be able to hear your call, to seek your will and to live lives worthy of you. Amen.