“Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”
― Conan O’Brien
Dear Malin Reese,
I made note in the very first letter that I wrote to you that we moved you from Phoenix to Seattle when you were just over 3 months old. This made us very unpopular with your family in Arizona. Grandma Amy threatened me with physical harm (something about buying a Taser and delivering an electroshock to Daddy’s manhood) if we didn’t make it home for Christmas. Mama Linda has threatened to kidnap you multiple times since the move. She visited us in July and said, “I’m going to put her in my carry-on bag and take her home”. It was pretty funny the first time she said it and quickly became an alarming repetitive refrain. The takeaway here is that your Grandmothers are crazy.
You may have been born in Chandler, Arizona but you’ve just eclipsed the 4 month mark living in Seattle. This officially makes you a Seattleite. I want you to be proud of the place you’re from and I’m confident you will be. Seattle is a gem of a city but let’s make a pact to avoid becoming a cliche portrait of the city you live in. First, there’s no need to own Birkenstocks. They might be sensible but they’re hideous. The fact that they were introduced in Germany in 1774 just means that they’ve been making people’s feet ugly for over 200 years. Second, there’s no need to defend the Space Needle as a significant, attractive piece of Architecture. It’s not. It’s a drab, phallic eyesore. Third, you don’t have to adopt the customary Seattle Freeze attitude towards people you don’t know. Seattleites are notorious for being brutally polite, only willing to offer a slight head nod or thin smile to strangers. You don’t have to be a gregarious nitwit but always choose to be warm and polite over being curt and polite.
We chose to move to Seattle because it was the best move for our little family. It was gut-wrenching to take you away from the family dynamic, because as you’ll find out, our family is a beautiful, odd collection of awesome. Here’s the cool thing though; moving to Seattle is going to afford you the opportunity to know a family member that you otherwise wouldn’t have seen very often. Your Great Grandpa, affectionately known as Papa Sonny. Papa Sonny was born with the Reindeer, above the Arctic Circle, in Kiruna, Sweden. He speaks with a thick and charming Swedish brogue and offers hugs and kisses with impunity. Your Mom was frightened when she first met him, fearing that each new kiss might be the time he became overzealous and offered a French-style Kiss. I promise you now, like I promised your Mom then; he’s not a pervy old man. He’s just European. He’s also an exceptionally kind man. It’s his best trait and the one that will define his legacy when he’s gone. If you take just one thing away from knowing him, take his kindness and apply it in your own life. Choose to be kind because there is honor it. Choose to be kind because that’s the expectation you set for the other people in your life. Choose to be kind because there’s enough shit to wade through in the world and it’s your chance to give a middle finger to all of the negative juju out there. Choose to be kind because maybe one day, when you have Grandchildren, they’ll choose to write a letter to their kids, explaining that their Grandmother’s greatest legacy was her kindness.