December 25

Dear Child:

To be honest, I would be surprised if you even knew I existed; and I am barely aware that you are a part of this world, let alone of your significance to the future. But such realities do not prevent me from at least some of my thoughts being occupied by you.

For example, I have considerations about how your days are occupied and about the consequences.

This time of year only emphasizes how overwhelming a miracle you are. Your very existence is a more magnificent testament to God than each glorious, unique sunrise, and (no question) you should be more cherished. Each precious moment of your childhood should be spent exploring -- and expanding your understanding of -- your present world and dreaming about your future. It is unfair (not to mention a waste of potential) that any generation must account for (and thus be held responsible for) the past. Especially at your young age, there are other pursuits more worthy, not only for yourself and your friends, but for your future children (and your parents' legacy).

There is an old Talmudic saying that says "It is not up to you to finish the work, but neither are you free not to take it up." You are too young to understand, but one could not even begin to stress the personal dangers of a martyr complex. Suffice to say, perhaps a modern version of the Talmudic saying is appropriate: "Although it is not up to you to finish the work, nor are you free not to take it up, do not believe the work is solely yours." Solos can be beautiful, but the most extraordinary results will occur when your magic is used in concert with others.

My presumptions about your parents' love notwithstanding, an incredible amount of your success at anything will be due solely to what others share with you and what you share with others, not formal training nor professional background. Vitality is derived from mutually beneficial relationships. People are very much like some jigsaw puzzle. Usually, the outside is easiest to solve. But it is the inside that is most difficult to complete -- and most agonizing, as the missing pieces seem to grow into missing holes. (Perhaps later come helpful realizations: that others may have missing pieces; that others may need extra pieces; that others may not want any of your extra pieces, nor share some of theirs, even without explaining why; and that the more who contribute to or work on a puzzle, the more likely the solution will be a strong whole.)

Distance and other realities may not allow me to devote personal attention to you. Nevertheless, I hope those more immediate in your life are more aware and visibly appreciate you; and that you will always be a mutual, beneficent partner in as many relationships as you require and as each person deserves.

Truly Yours,

Vernon R.J. Schmid


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Copyright ©1991, 1996 Vernon R.J. Schmid.  All rights reserved.
Last Updated: 2005-01-23.

The thoughts behind this Christmas letter began the late afternoon after watching the total solar eclipse in Mexico, and were partially inspired by Mallory Rita, the recently-arrived daughter of a coworker at the time.