It’s my daughter’s birthday today, so I want to give her a shoutout because she’s a pretty incredible person.
Happy Birthday, Aleigha! Today is a day to celebrate you! And I’d like to do that with a story from your childhood. Don’t worry, it’s not embarrassing. I’m saving those for another time. 😉 haha
Remember when you were 8 years old and dad and I explained what the Angel Tree was and how some children at Christmas don’t get gifts like you and your brother and sister? The Angel Tree is a way for people in the community to provide toys for children in need. Dad’s office had a tree, and so we each chose a tag to buy a gift for someone and you picked a tag for an 8-year-old girl like you. Do you remember that you insisted on buying her a real American Girl doll?
I explained how expensive those dolls were, and tried to steer you in the direction of a much cheaper Barbie doll, but no, you wanted to buy an American Girl doll. You didn’t care how much they cost, you wanted to use all of your money in your piggy bank for this little girl you didn’t know, nor would ever meet. You would never see the joy on her face when she saw the doll for the first time, but you knew in your heart that this gift would be a delight to her. You wanted her to know that she was special too, and not only that, but you wanted to make the financial contribution yourself. You were adamant that I not pay for it. Even at your young age, you knew something about the connection between love and sacrifice.
I ordered the doll you thought she’d like and when it arrived, you couldn’t contain your excitement. You begged me to take you that minute to the drop-off center, and so we went and you carried the box, almost as big as you, up to the table and left it. I wanted a band to come out, with streamers and confetti, and play a song for you, or for the workers to put you on their shoulders singing “For she’s the jolly good fellow.” I fought the urge to tell everyone, “This is an AMERICAN GIRL DOLL, that she bought with her own money!” But you didn’t need any of that. You were 100% satisfied and I’ll never forget how happy you looked when you turned around with that sweet grin on your face, and with no fan fare whatsoever we walked, hand in hand, back to the car.
OK, I did my own kind of fan fare I guess, as a mother. “Oh, Aleigha, that was the sweetest, most generous thing I’ve ever seen. You are kind, so kind. Some little girl is going to be so excited on Christmas morning, thanks to you.”
I will never forget that act of kindness and generosity. You gave everything you had to someone you didn’t know, but to someone you knew needed it. That’s true love.
You’ve always been concerned about the homeless. You used to ask if we could drive around and give homeless people water. And in 5th grade you asked your teacher if the class could fill gift bags for homeless people instead of a party. She said yes, and we did it!
You’ve been my child to question things, to wonder why, to be curious about why the world works the way it does. You are the first one to offer love to those who are sidelined, outcast or shunned because they may not fit in to certain social mores.
I could not be prouder of who you are, so beautiful and kind and smart and brave. You’ve overcome challenges that others only read about in books. You see something you want and you go for it, even if afraid. You see a problem, you fix it. You’ve learned to allow yourself to have your feelings and to love and accept yourself as you are. I’m so glad because you are amazing.
You are a gift to me, your family, your boyfriend, your friends, the world. Your presence, your listening ear, your humor, your love, your desire to help others, just the essence of you, all gifts. Thank you for being you and for teaching us more about how to love others unconditionally. I’m so thankful for you and so so so proud and happy you’re my daughter. I love you! Have a very happy birthday!