I'm reading a book by the Dalai Lama called The Art of Happiness, which, I just found out on Amazon, is ten years old (just a tad behind the curve). In this book, he writes that the one thing we can always rely on is that things will change.
And this, though simple, is a hard truth to swallow.
Sometimes, change is good: I hope and pray that, when you are old enough to go to college and get a job, these things will be available to you. I hope that attitudes toward Down Syndrome change (they are already changing). I hope that, when you are an adult, you don't have to read about mass shootings every single day. Without change, things would be stagnant and we would lapse into stereotypes, prejudices, and untested attitudes.
But I must admit that, personally, I suck at change. Friendships change as we grow older, have children, move away from one another; we are always changing in ways that are difficult to understand, and the people in our lives change. Sometimes, I kind-of feel for Edmund Burke when, in his Reflections on the Revolution in France, he writes about the importance of tradition (and then I remember that what he wants is for the people with money to keep having money, so there's that...). But I do think that, at this time of year, it's why we hold onto traditions for dear life: they are something we can count on, something that, hopefully, won't change.
But even traditions, and the people we share them with, will change. Christmastime is always a little difficult for me because I really miss my childhood traditions. Grammy and Papa try to include my traditions in theirs, and I'm grateful for that, but I remember fondly Christmases with Nagyi, your other grandfather, and your uncle Julius. As you know, my father died long before you were born, I very rarely see your uncle, someone else lives in the house I grew up in...so now, being "home" for Christmas means being in our home, and we make traditions of our own for you to remember (and, like me, to romanticize).
What can we hold onto that won't change? Well, we can hold onto our memories. Here is a Christmas picture from when I was a little girl:
But the bigger thing that we can hold onto is love. Since we are always changing, love means accepting those changes and loving others for who they are, and this, too, is difficult, but not when I think about how unconditionally I love you, or your Daddy, or Nagyi, or any of my family. Our lives might change--we might not, like my dad, always be around--but our love for others still remains. Look at that picture of my dad, your grandpa. See how much he loved me? See how much Nagyi loves Uncle Julius and me? No matter where we are, no matter what we do, no matter our beliefs--even though we might not be in the same house or with the same people--that love always remains. It's what roots us and allows us to grow.
It's why, every night, I remind you that:
Mommy loves you
Dada loves you
Grammy loves you
Nagyi loves you
Papa loves you
Great-Grandpa loved you
Your uncles love you
Aunt Maggie loves you
Your sister Bertie loves you
Your friends (and here we list them all) love you
Beasley and Puck love you
God loves you.
Your friends might come and go, but the rest of the people (and animals) on this list will always love you, and with that, we can weather this thing we call change.