You are the the Jo March of our family. A writer. An actress. A performer. A poet. You love fiercely and truly. You speak clearly and influentially. You even have pencil marks on your hand from so much writing. (And, yes, you have the fiery temper to match too).
When you take any stage, you TAKE up every square inch. No one taught you acting skills: how to put volume in your voice, pitch into your songs, energy into your steps. You just knew. With a blink, you can transform into an old woman going shopping, a foreign gypsy, a tough police officer, a mother in prairie times, or a doctor in distressing circumstances. Your imagination is remarkable. We've held off in putting you in a formal drama program because of the intensity of the commitment, but your time will come. When it does, I know you will relish every moment. One day soon, I'll be in an audience somewhere - clapping my hands, tears in my eyes, "bravo" on my lips.
You thrive in school due to your intense curiosity, your propensity toward research, and your love of the written word. Literature and composition are undoubtedly your favorite subjects. You fly through books and then stand in front of me, giving an excited narration. "What should I read next?" you say in desperation, "I've already read all of the books on our shelves."
As for writing, you are a prolific and creative scribe. You doodle alongside your writings and go above and beyond for every writing assignment - showering in details, splashing in commentary. Because you adore science, you keep notebooks of sketches, inventions, and fascinating facts about the world around you.
In addition to academic pursuits, you take an interest in, well, just about everything. If I propose an extracurricular activity, you are the first to raise your hand. Ballet, tap, voice, basketball, volleyball, theatre, horseback riding, golf - you want to try it all! Because of your gumption, you're pretty good at it all too.
When we went to SeaWorld last October, you decided to go on the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the park even though you barely made the height cut-off. You walked off with your head held high.
One of the things I love about you is that you still play with dolls, stuffed animals, paper dolls, and costumes. You'll pull things out of the dress-up trunk and make-believe all day. Contrary to common thought, this actually proves your maturity rather than the lack of it. You aren't racing to grow up. You're savoring the goodness of today, imagining the most elaborate scenarios, delighting in possibilities. You are funny and full of life. Vivacious and vibrant.
You make friends everywhere you go. When we went to family camp, it wasn't half a day before you introduced us all to your new friend and brought our families together. This was expected because you are a magnet to friends, introducing yourself, letting people in.
Related: you are a trend-setter. This is due to the fact that you do things differently and don't care a smidge if it's not the current way. You started wearing overalls everywhere last year and I couldn't help but notice that your social circle quietly followed suit. You even repurpose your own clothing to create new pieces. It's important to remark here, however, that you don't actually have an interest in fashion, make-up, or fanciness. You're far more into adventure and practicality - and your wardrobe is inspired by those two attributes.
Although you love social engagements, you also appreciate alone time and seek out little spaces of solitude (which can sometimes be hard to come by in a family of six).
When I look over at you across a room, I catch my breath these days. You'll be bending over a journal, pencil in hand, with your long golden hair falling past your shoulders. You'll look up and smile - a smile of a young woman, not of a girl. Eleven is a lovely age and you are beautiful as you step into it.
Adventures are just over the bend and I already see that your head is full of clouds. You'll go off to big places, fly away with a suitcase and a wave. Eager to step out, but homesick all at the same time. Wherever you go, whatever you do, remember who you are - a child of God, chosen in advance to do good works. Never forget. We all love you and we are cheering you on.
* I write letters to each of my children on their birthdays so that they will remember and I won’t forget. As Sheldon Vanauken so aptly put it, “Writing has something of the timeless about it – a breath of eternity.”