Tuesday, January 5, 2021


Today, Hannah Ruth, you are turning seventeen.

So much of this past year wasn't what we wanted it to be, and it hurts a bit to re-read last year's letter and all the promise it held. There were many hard lessons this year, most of which I could not have anticipated. It was the year you attended four funerals that you will never forget. It was the year your shows and Kerem summer were cancelled. A year of tremendous heartbreak, and coping with the unknown. So much change and adaptation. I hope years from now, you can look back and realize just how strong and resilient you were.

Because change and adapt is what you did. You made the absolute best you could out of remote learning, staying dedicated to your classes and activities. You were the lead in Sense and Sensibility and worked harder than you've ever worked in a show. You led high holiday services over Zoom in a seriously impressive fashion. You took your first college course and blew me away with your architectural designs. You're driving cars, but you're also driven, taking on SATs and thinking about college and what you want from your life.

Even with nowhere really to go, you've kept your cell phone charged all year long. You make your bed every day, and keep your bullet journal and to do lists done. Thank you for being my television buddy, for finally seeing what I see in the Real Housewives, and for loving Jagged Little Pill as much as I do. Your friendships have continued to deepen and expand as you all faced these challenging times together, learning to give each other more grace along the way. Your brother may be taller than you now, but there's no one he leans on more than you. And I'm glad you still find Shira as endlessly entertaining as I do.

So little seems foreseeable right now. But the coming year will still bring performances, will still bring college applications, will still bring new experiences. Hopefully, it will bring a return to in-person school and singing together. No matter what, I know you will put all of your best into it. Happy birthday, my sweet Hanniebelle. I'm so proud to be your mom.

(You can also see letters for ages seveneightnineteneleventwelvethirteenfourteen,  fifteen and sixteen.)

Friday, January 1, 2021


Today, Max Benjamin, you are turning thirteen.

While it shouldn't really surprise me, you've handled all that 2020 has thrown at you in a very Max way. You've asked lots of questions. You've felt your feelings. You've retreated and emerged. You've done what you needed to do, and often not one ounce more than that. Unless it was something you really wanted to do, and then you went all out.

Like taking walks. It's not enough to just go for a walk - you needed to walk to your old elementary school, then further than that, and then back again, just because you could. Or when you wanted to make a video on something you saw in Minecraft - you knew what needed to be done, and to do it quickly, to capitalize on the moment. You don't accept things at face value. There is always some other dimension to be assessed, another way to think about every concept. You know that playing the same song on your guitar, over and over, is not really the same song. You acknowledge and embrace the differences.

You are flannel shirts and #cupolaoftheday, your own merch and 100+ YouTube subscribers. You are totally prepared for your bar mitzvah, and accepted what it is to be and made your desires known. You are science and politics and economics and music. You have supportive friends who you help to grow into better people, and who help you to grow too. You and Hannah challenge each other and yet are tighter than ever. Shira is your best hammock buddy.

And now I'll have two teenagers in the house. I appreciate when you let me indulge in nostalgia for our own "back thens," when I look for the platinum blonde toddler in the size 11 shoes you wear today. We may not know what this next year will throw your way, but I know I can count on you to make it through it. I love you so much, buddy. Happy birthday.

(You can also see letters for ages threefourfivesixseveneightnineteneleven and twelve.)