A Letter to Ezra on His 9th Birthday

Dear Ezra,

Happy birthday! You turned nine today! I thought it would be nice to write you another letter for your birthday. It’s the fifth time I’ve done this now, but this year feels a bit different than in years past. You’ve grown in so many ways, but perhaps one of the most significant areas of growth has been in your reading ability. This year you can read the letter yourself! I think that’s so neat. 

Soon after your eighth birthday, our family rented a minivan and drove out to visit Uncle Eric in Nashville. We spent a whole week there enjoying the sights and sounds of that city, with Eric as our tour guide. We played at various playgrounds, ate amazing food, visited a park, visited Third Man Records. It was a wonderful trip. 

The grip that the pandemic had on our day to day lives started to fade away slowly throughout the past year. Just last week wearing masks became optional at the hospital here on campus. I constantly wonder about the effect that growing up through this pandemic will have on your generation, but you’ve really taken it all in stride. 

We went to Okoboji with our Boys Town family in June this year. The water was pretty cold, but you didn’t mind. Soon after Okoboji, you and your brother headed out to spent time with Grammaw Terri and Pappaw Jerry in Indiana. We met them halfway at the Mississippi River. Your sister stayed behind this year because she was taking her first college classes over the summer.

You still go to dance class every Friday evening, and you had two recitals this past year. Both of them were incredibly fun for me to watch as your dad. What made me love it so much was seeing how much fun and joy you had while performing. I’m proud of how you love to dance. It definitely has become a part of your identity over these last few years. It’s so neat.

You went on a taco ride with me this year, too! That’s something you’ve talked about wanting to do with me for such a long time. And so we made it happen, and you were so proud of it. It was by far the longest bike ride you’ve ever been on, and you powered through like a champ.

Our family rented a small Airbnb in a tiny town in Iowa later in the summer to get away for a weekend. We went to the county fair there where we watched a figure eight race car race and you played in the sandbox of corn. We went to a water park and we relaxed together as a family of five. I think these little family of five vacations will be some of my favorite memories of my life. They’re so special. 

You’re still so affectionate, and everyone appreciates your hugs. I remember on our little vacation seeing Mom pick you up and you hugging her with all your might before bed. She spun you around, laughing in the last light of the summer’s sun. I wondered how many more times this sort of thing would happen. You’re growing fast. 

You started third grade this year, easily one of the most memorable years of my own childhood. Your two best friends are Lane and Mushtabah. Lane is in your dance class, too. And the three of you love to play and talk about Minecraft whenever possible. Most days after school, after you’ve done your homework, you love to play Minecraft for as long as we’ll let you, especially in the colder months of the year. You also love to spend time outside. You and your brother still love to spend time playing in the trees, climbing the climbing tree, and playing with our neighbors. 

Bell was adopted by another family who could better care for her. And we got some pet rats soon thereafter. You love your rats. I’m still unsure how your mom convinced me to let it happen, but it is neat to see how much you love those little guys. 

You’ve been improving a lot at piano, and I enjoy seeing how by how enthusiastic you are about learning the piano. You’ve got a great ear and I hope you continue to develop your piano skills for years to come. You have these periods of time where you are kind of obsessed playing one song over and over. Right now it is the Gravity Falls theme song. It’s the song that first let us think you should start taking piano lessons because you starting picking it out by ear on the piano in the living room. Now you’re much more advanced at playing it than back then. It’s neat to see how far you’ve come. 

There are plenty of other details from the past year I could write about, such as our family trip to Okoboji for Micah’s birthday, or our recent trip to the Great Wolf Lodge, which we had to drive through a snow storm to get to. You and your brother had a bunk bed in the hotel room. You two rode down the water slides over and over. We had a dance party at the end of the night each night. 

Perhaps the most defining aspect of this past year, however, has been your decision to grow out your hair. You didn’t know exactly what hairstyle you wanted, but you knew you just wanted to grow it out. When we asked you how long, you said you wanted it down to your shoulders. 

Your hair has grown fast since this past fall and now you’ve developed quite an iconic look. It has been quite the journey and I’m curious when it will end. You’ve not had a single haircut since the fall, and you seem to want to continue growing it out. 

This past year was a full one. There’s so much else I could talk about that you did, like go to World’s of Fun with your mom again in the fall, or how you started and finished the entire Harry Potter series with Mom. But perhaps most significantly, more than any trip or activity this past year is the fact that you’ve grown up and matured in so many ways. Nothing is more precious to me than seeing you get along with your siblings. I love to listen in sometimes on you and your brother playing together and hear you two getting along so well. Keep developing that gentleness in your heart. It’s my favorite part of who you are. 

What a year it has been, Ezra! And I look forward to all the memories of your ninth year as I hold with deep gratitude the memories of this past year with you. Your mom and I are so proud of you! 


Published by Andrew

a ragamuffin dad planting some sequoias

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