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.)

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