Since this is his first Christmas, Heidi and I both decided to write a letter to Tristan for each day of the month from now until Christmas Day. We wanted to share what’s on our hearts for our son, and we both felt this was the most meaningful way to do it. Heidi’s first letter is here. Mine is below.
***** ***** *****
As Christmas draws closer, I’m so excited to get to share this special time of year with you for the first time! Already I can start to see bits and pieces of the amazing person you are, emerging slowly as you learn more and more how to communicate with your mom and me (and others) and share yourself with us.
This is the first of several Christmas letters I wanted to write to you, and in it, I want to communicate with you the most important thing I hope you can grasp and hold onto throughout your entire life.
It is this: I love you.
You’ve heard me say that before . . . in fact, it’s probably one of the first things you heard me say as I held you on the day you emerged into this crazy world we live in. But I want you to do more than hear it. I want you to understand what it means.
Love means different things to different people. In fact, I mean different things when I tell different people I love them. I love your mom differently (though certainly not less) than I love you. And I will love your future siblings differently (though again, not less) than I do you.
But I want you to know this. You are special to me in a way nobody else is, or ever will be. I believe the most important things in any of our lives – those things for which we were created – are our relationships, and I want you to know that no matter what happens, my relationship with you will always be what I consider the most important thing about you. I may . . . correction, I will . . . fail as a father sometimes. I will make mistakes, say hurtful things, and give you bad advice. You, in turn, will do and say some things I like and agree with, and others I dislike and disagree with. On occasion, you will even be wrong, just as I will be wrong on occasion.
But know this. There is nothing you can do to make me love you less. No matter what mistakes you make, or what mistakes I make. I love you as much as I possibly can. And I always will.
But there is also nothing you can do to make me love you more. You do not have to earn my love. You simply have it. You do not have to comply with my wishes (either willingly or grudgingly) in order to get me to love you. I just do. I love you as much as I possibly can. And I always will.
Your mother and I were extremely good friends long before we were interested in anything more than friendship. The day you were born, I remember looking at your mother and saying something like, “You know, it took me four years getting to know you before I fell in love with you. With Tristan, it didn’t even take four seconds.”
I still can’t believe how much I love you. Before your mom, I didn’t know it was even possible to love someone this much. And before you, I didn’t know it was possible to love someone this quickly.
It is. I did, and I still do.
I spent most of my childhood and early adulthood trying to please someone else – my mother, my father, my pastor, my friends, my teachers and other voices I considered important to my life . . . I lived a shadow-life, someone else’s life. I don’t want that for you. It’s not like all of those people made their approval conditional upon my actions (though some certainly did) . . . it’s more that I felt I needed to behave in certain ways to earn their approval. I want you to always know that’s not the case, and if I have to write a hundred more letters like this, and have a thousand conversations with you throughout your lifetime to convince you of this, I will. I want you to know beyond any doubt that you are your own person, and neither I nor anybody else is a better judge than you of what that means. I will do my best to share with you throughout your life the paths I think it’s wise for you to walk. And then I’ll walk with you down whatever paths you choose.
Because I love you.