Dearest Darling Nephew

Dearest Nephew,

I submit this to you as a user’s manual of sorts. Or a guide to life. Or pointless drivel. (Oh? You don’t know what drivel is? Well look it up! You father, mother, and sister are all very smart-I must tough love you so that you keep up.)

So anyways, lesson # 1. This is not in order of importance, but I am not gonna lie-this one is PRETTY IMPORTANT. What to do if someone is mean, unkind, unfair, annoying, or otherwise bothersome: Tell Aunt Rita. Now look, you have a dad, mom, big sister, grandparents, older aunts, older uncles, etc. You could tell any of them. But don’t. Tell Aunt Rita. Aunt Rita is a FEARSOME WARRIOR. Tell her and then develop an alibi and amnesia so that when the cops come to the door because the person who was upsetting you has mysteriously disappeared, you can have a clean(ish) conscience.

Caveats: (what? do I have to buy you a dictionary?? oh now you can’t read?? YOUR SISTER was reading Shakespeare in the hospital nursery!! No pressure. Everyone learns at their own pace).

Caveat #1: If the person bothering you is Aunt Meghaun. DO NOT TELL AUNT RITA! First of all, it was just a joke! Can’t you take a joke? Don’t be so sensitive. Second of all, you should tell your big sister, Juli. I know for a fact that Juli can take a joke and she will think it was hilarious. Or umm hey no what I mean is, tell Juli because she is the only person I am afraid of and she will deal with me.

Caveat #2: If the person bothering you is Aunt Rita. Look kid, Aunt Rita is no joke. Please obey her. OBEY HER. She is probably just looking out for you and being protective. But if that isn’t working out for you, I have a few suggestions. You could tell your maternal grandparents. (I will clue you in on this one: maternal=mother. In short, Ed & Liz). They will feel your pain and overcompensate by being ridiculously sweet spoiling pushovers AND they will tell on Aunt Rita to your mom. But there it gets dicey because your mom will think that your maternal grandparents are being ridiculous pushovers and she will think that Aunt Rita’s tough love balances everything out. Option 2: Put on puppy dog sad eyes (Jack,your beagle, will teach you) and say in a quivering voice: “I was just trying to love you.” Bonus if you can squeeze out a single tear. If that works, mutter under your breath something about a shoe and an other foot and then IMMEDIATELY call Aunt Meghaun and Aunt Margaux and scream, “ IT WORKED!” And then laugh maniacally. (Aunt Rita totally burned your sweet innocent Aunties Megs and Margaux with this tactic once). Option 3: This is ALWAYS a good option for anything and everything. Prayer.

Caveat #3: If the person bothering you is a girl at school. Tell Aunt Margaux. I don’t have any proof, but instinct tells me that Aunt Margaux will handle this in a unique and special way. Caveat to this caveat: Only repeat things Auntie Margaux says about this girl if you are prepared to get what at my school was called a “caution slip” and be disciplined by your parents.

Lesson #2: Your big sister. This is a hodge podge of facts, suggestions, warnings. I begin with a story: As a toddler, your sister found my pain amusing. Especially when she caused it. She would climb on the back of the couch while I was laying on it and launch herself off the back of the couch onto my abdominal musclelard (pronounced MUSK YOU LARD). This is a made up word that I taught Juli for my fatty areas. Not that I have fatty areas. Just...you know....hypothetically.  She weighed more than a small bowling ball. Imagine what it would feel like to have small bowling ball dropped onto your stomach. It hurt! I would writhe in agony. Yelp in pain. And all the while, your sweet, sweet, loving, kind, empathetic sister would laugh and laugh and laugh and then climb onto the back of the couch so that she could do it again. I can not suggest that you climb on the furniture. Or cause your sister harm. But you know if you get bored or feel like avenging your poor, poor Aunt Meghaun’s abdominals, it’s not like I am there to stop you. Bonus, I am also not there to be accused of being a bad influence by your parents. But nevermind about that!

And now some warnings. If Juli’s eyes ever take on a glint or a glaze and she whispers something about you not being that much bigger than a “fuzzy” RUN! RUN! RUN! Have you met her snake Charlie? Do you want to know how long it would take Charlie to digest you? Juli does.

When coupled with a glint or glaze of the eyes, here are other words that signal the need to RUN!: Experiment. Shark.

And now some facts: Juli thinks I am the fun aunt. Of course, just because Juli thinks I am the fun aunt doesn’t mean you have to think I am. But Juli is very smart. And she has spent a lot of time with me. So it seems like she would know. Jus’ Sayin’

Juli wants nothing more than to read to you all the time. And she likes to do all the voices of the different characters. When she says: “Go Away! I am playing on the computer!” or “Hey! Can’t you see I am busy?” she means that she really, really, really wants to read to you. She just needs you to prove your devotion by asking again and again.

Lesson # 3: Fitting in with your family. As previously mentioned, your immediate family is a very, very smart group of people. No pressure!

They are nearly perfect. But there is this one thing, this little, teeny, tiny, wrinkle that they all seem to have.......Competitiveness. Who knew that Taboo, Rummikub, Spades, or Mario for Nintendo Wii are in fact, “extreme games?” Anyone who has played them with your family. That’s who knew. Dog eat dog. Kill or be killed. Eat or be eaten.

Lesson #4: Why I call you Sam. It’s possible that this is not applicable. If I don’t call you Sam, feel free to disregard. But if I do call you Sam, here’s why: 1. You are named Sam. (It’s possible.) 2. You are named something truly awful like Methuselah or Ruprecht. Since it’s bizarre that I call you Sam if your name is not Sam, I decided to make it an acronym. (Dictionary!) But I couldn’t think of a good one for SAM, but I thought of an awesome one for SAAAM. So it will always be like I am yelling at you. Should Always Adore Auntie Meghaun. It also would work for Auntie Margaux. But for Rita it would have to be SAAAR and if I yelled that people would panic because SARS is a serious form of pneumonia and it once had an international outbreak. And I am trying really hard to think of an adorable lil boy name that ends in R because Auntie Rita totally deserves an acronym, but I am drawing a blank. LEMAR? Lovingly Embrace Magnificent Aunt Rita. Oh now that is cute! Is LEMAM a real name? Could I get away with that?

Lesson #5: Girl stuff. Welcome to a family of all girls! If you want sympathy about this, cling to the paternal side of the family. They are a boy family. We gots none for you buddy!  Deal with it! Always tell us we are pretty and we look nice and if we cry give us hugs and if we are angry you should hide really well. Also we are good at fixing you up if you hurt yourself and spoiling you rotten when you are sick and we like everything you will ever draw for us and we like flowers. The end.

Lesson #6: Sports (this is as close to “Boy stuff” as you are gonna get from me). Let me make this easy for you: You are a Cardinals’ Fan. A St. Louis Cardinals’ Fan. You are NOT a Chicago Cubs’ Fan. You are NOT a White Sox Fan. If you want to be a Bears’ Fan or a Bulls’ Fan you are setting yourself up for a life filled with sadness and disappointment but that is your business. I mean, arguably it is better and far less embarrassing to be a Bears’ fan than a Rams’ fan. And St. Louis doesn’t have an NBA team so who really are you supposed to cheer for in basketball?  When it comes to the NBA, have you seen Nash play? Doesn’t his energy, his “give it your all, can-do” attitude restore your faith in professional athletes? Don’t you like to tell yourself that at some point you have to accept that Jordan affiliated himself with other teams after the Bulls so how traitorous is it really if you decide that you are a Suns’ fan? Don’t we all have to let go of the past sometime? Unless in the past you were a Cubs’ fan, which is never okay!

Three more lessons to go.....hang in there......

Lesson #7: Aunt Meghaun talks too much. Sorry.

Lesson# 8: Your dad is fantastic. He is so smart. And he has this great sense of humor. And he is a giant dork, which sounds like an insult, but I only use it towards people I love and admire. He has this quirk of only liking certain kinds of pens (don’t use his) which I used to think was totally Type A and crazy and now I totally have this “don’t touch MY pens” reputation among my close friends and so I understand. Nice pens are shockingly expensive. Also he makes a lot of really great decisions. My favorite is that he married my big sister. But second to that would be any decision he has made to serve God more fully. I just could go on and on about your dad and how well he thrives (survives?) in this crazy family and how he doesn’t just put up with us, he actually seems to LOVE us. And I think he will be tough on you and have high expectations for you and I also think that the two of you will be adorably dorky friends. You and your dad are going to have the best and worst of times together. But you will survive the worst of times by reminding yourself that just like you he is imperfect and you know this because Auntie Meghaun told you in this letter that he used to be a Cubs’ Fan. I have forgiven him, so should you.

Lesson # 9: Your mom is awesome. Your mom has never given me bad advice. Ever. Your mom has given me unsolicited advice when I was an ungrateful youth and didn’t appreciate it, but it was never bad advice. And in the past few years, your mom has given me advice that I will keep with me forever and I quote to people all of the time. She’s a regular guru that woman! Oprah who?? Personal favorites: 1. Being happy is the best revenge. 2. Don’t hold back from reaching out for God because you think are not where you need to be, if you aren’t where you need to be Jehovah will get you there. This alone tells you a lot of what you need to know about your mom. She is spiritual, smart, funny, wise, generous, loving, she recommends good books, and if you are of age and having a very bad day she will know to make you a drink. She can totally dish on all that is pop culture. She has great taste in music. So great that is almost makes all the time your dad devoted to bad 80’s bands okay. So when you are behaving like a typical boy and your mother stares at you like you are an alien life form that has just informed her that you are here to perform horrific experiments upon her, just know that she has a lot of other really great stuff going for her. And boys are an all new ball game.


Love,

Auntie Meghaun