Keeping with tradition (started last year), B has written his own birthday letter to Samantha. And, if this one doesn't make you cry, you are tougher than me . . . His love for his girl -- his complete and total awe of her shines through.
This past weekend, your mother and I along with your nanny, Nana, Papa and Gigi all celebrated your third birthday with you. What a weekend!! There was a bitter-sweet graduation party at your school on Friday, a fun movie and pizza day on Saturday, and then a swimming party with friends and (more) family on Sunday. I think I can safely speak for everyone when I say that we were exhausted by the end! In a good way, to be sure, but still exhausted. Throughout the weekend there were lots of smiles, presents, hugs and kisses and a very noticeable absence of naps for you! It was great fun and touched my heart that you have such wonderful people around you that all came together to celebrate you. Sweet. Wonderful. Magical. You. (I'm stealing this style of punctuated writing from your mother.)
This last thought--that there were lots of wonderful people around you celebrating you--is the theme for this year's birthday letter. Here goes.
Your life will take you places I can only dream. You will visit places I have only read about in books. You will do things I was too scared to do. You will overcome obstacles that I have never had to face myself. While I cannot begin to put names to the places you will visit or adventures you will have, I can be sure of this --people will come into and out of your life along the way. You will meet interesting people in cafes, share fleeting glances with mysterious strangers walking down the street, enjoy colleagues at work and school, have friends and best friends (and ex-best friends; I'm told girls go through best friends quick as "noodles through a goose." Look it up, I had to.). Just remember that no matter where you go and what you accomplish, these are not as important as the people around you. Cherish them. Listen to them. Learn from them. And make sure you have the right ones around you.
Your mother and I have worked very hard to ensure that the right people are around you now. People who get you (get your essence, as your mom likes to say). People who see all of the amazing things you do every day like tell knock knock jokes, or yell at Dude for taking your Winnie the Pooh bear or Dora doll, or ask for ice cream for breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, and dessert. People who see no limits to what you can achieve. People who you can ask for help, and who won't think twice about giving it. Again and again. People who recognize that we all need help at one time or another.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that people and the relationships you have are really what matter. And just so you don't think that your dear old Dad is perfect (far, far from it, actually), I don't always practice what I preach. I can be better about appreciating the people in my life, too.
When I was a little younger and had a slighter lower hairline, my dad (your papa) shared with me a poem written by American poet Max Ehrmann, called Desiderata (or, "desired things"), that resonated with me. I saved it, and share it with people at every opportunity. I won't quote the entire passage here, but the following verse speaks to what I'm trying to say to you in this letter: "As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story [....] You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."
Be sure to speak your truth quietly and clearly but don't be afraid to speak up when necessary. You are an amazing little girl. You are sweet and gentle. Funny and mischievous at times. Sensitive. Hard-working. A beautiful soul. Be true to yourself. Always.
At the very core of my being I am enjoying every single second of watching you grow. I consider myself blessed to be a part of your story.
I love you lots and all over the place.