Happy Birthday To You…

My daughter recently turned two. We are now on the fifth day in a row of singing happy birthday to her and blowing out a candle. I haven’t the heart to tell her that birthdays only last a day, but I don’t make the rules. She does. I digress. Since before her birth, I made a promise to write her a letter for her every birthday. The letter, I guess, works as some form of her year in review. I talk about how she is developing, I talk about things she has done or achieved in the last year. I talk about how my year was – making it quite the therapy session – and finally, I discuss what our upcoming year together might bring.

The masterplan is to have one written per year, completed on her birthday, for as many years as I can hold a pen. Then, once I leave this planet and moved onto the next one, the collection of letters will be presented to her. I am quite certain it’ll be the best book I will ever write, but to a very, very niche audience of one. And I won’t receive the feedback.

As I wrote my letter this year, it made me laugh, it made me reminisce, and it made me cry. It really pulled my emotions all over the place. So, I wanted to propose letter writing as my prompt. Not only letter writing, but a letter written for a particular person at a particular time. Is it their birthday? Your anniversary? The day of their remembrance?

Writing a letter in such a way might do a great job at prying open the emotions and deeper feelings you have inside, and spilling them onto the page. It will encourage you to tell your truths, reveal your soul and share your secrets, because you are talking to a person you want to reach out to (and you love them, which will help).

The goal of this exercise might not be for anyone to actually read your letter, but it could inspire something else: the seed of a new idea, overcoming writer’s block on your work-in-progress, or simply getting something off your chest.

Either way, it’s writing. And that’s good enough. Now excuse me while I go and light the candle one more time.


  1. I love that your daughter demands a candle each day. Children have the strangest logic. My granddaughter’s was that everyone was learning English in order to be able to communicate with her father who spoke this, to her, unique language of his own. She was two and a bit when she came out with this, when we visited her family in Hungary. Both her mother and father taught English, but she still had sometimes to help her father with Hungarian. Her amazement when we admitted that we too spoke English and knew few Hungarian words was total.
    Your daughter’s impression that having been told she’d reached her birthday, it should recur daily, seems eminently logical.
    As for letter-writing, I grew up writing Christmas and birthday thank you letters, and later writing to my family when not at home, but the art of letter-writing seems to have been lost. I think your annual letter is a lovely idea, although perhaps you should give your daughter those written already when she reaches 18 or 21, or has her own first child, rather than making her wait, perhaps until her 50s or 60s or even longer.
    I still write occasional letters, and it is a different occupation to messaging people. Normally the letters I write now are due to an event which is emotional, they demand a different concentration and care than a phone call.

  2. Gail

    Happy family time! Enjoy every minute!

  3. I really do love this idea, Michael! And I agree with Gill that she should have a chance to read them before you take up space travel.

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