Be Our Guest–In Which Ellie Wishes You a Joyeux Anniversaire

Dear Lily June,

Once upon a time, when I was younger, I read on the inside of a Snapple bottle cap that “A duck’s quack doesn’t echo, and nobody quite knows why.” I was thoroughly intoxicated by that fact and carried it with me for a good chunk of my life. I only learned, in researching facts about echoes now (since it’s how each of these letters begins, with an echo from your quacking mother) that it’s untrue. A duck’s quack DOES echo; it’s just so quiet that it often goes unheard.

I’m of the opinion, Lily June, that even if no one is listening to that tree crash down in the forest, its sound still reverberates into the silence. But I’m not a politely soft-spoken bird, nor am I an isolated tree. I ALL-CAPS DEMAND THAT my echo be heard: I’ve put out a call to anyone (seriously! anyone!) who stumbles upon this blog to write you a letter for your upcoming first birthday on May 13. Below is the eleventh of these I “received,” (you’ll see why I use scare quotes around that word below) with my introduction to the fellow blogger who wrote it.

Β ***

Ellie P., of Crossed Eyes and Dotted Tees, was one of the first bloggers who ever corrected my grammar. Trust me when I say, Lily June, that this was an honor. This prolific writer and storyteller has such a firm grasp of the English language that for a while, I feared to post knowing her discerning eye would fall on every word. And I was a former English teacher and published writer! Luckily, her justice as a grammar cop is delivered swiftly, but never with unnecessary cruelty. She will, as the joke goes, cradle you in her arms when you’re upset about your typographical faux pas and lovingly whisper, “There. Their. They’re.”

But Ellie’s wisdom is so much more expansive than just covering how to use a hyphen or where a comma goes. She has tackled driving anxieties and won, though she has fallen, just walking, into a pothole (a woman after my own heart)! She quit smoking as if it were as easy as breathing (and it is!), and she has taken up writing a book as if it were as easy to adopt as a habit (and it is!) And in the meantime, she has served as a kind of living historian of all of Montreal and Canada.

She shares personal family photos on her blog and tells stories about her family that capture the small details as vividly as a photograph. Though I know it’s cheap writing to fall back on descriptive strings, she inspires all of the following: She is opinionated, witty, wise, a mother, a survivor, a divorcee and a dater, a wonderful writer and a terribly kind (and patient) human being. I am not exaggerating when I say that I owe her emails from (over?) six months ago, and the fact that she hasn’t given up on me–and wrote to you, my darling daughter, in the meantime–is proof of her unimaginable generosity.

Already, Lily, though I’ve never met her in the flesh, you remind me of Ellie P. in your fierce independence. When we tried to teach you, for instance, peek-a-boo, you were not interested in where we’d hide. Instead, you wanted to be the one to cover your face in a blanket, and you wanted us to find YOU. And Ellie’s words, like your face, Lily, are a joy to be found, as she takes the helm of your imagination and leads you to new places and perspectives you might not have otherwise visited or considered.

Because of that fierce independence, Lily (I bet, like you, she demands to hold her own spoon, figuratively as much as literally), she posted her letter to you on her own blog first, so I get the great privilege and opportunity to direct more readers to her by including not a letter directly below, but a link. (In the meantime, Lily, I’ve saved a printed copy of her words because, no matter how time may change the shape of the internet, her lessons are ones to be internalized and preserved.)

Without further ado, I give you, from Ms. Ellie P., “A Letter to Lily June on her First Birthday.” Read it and, as I have, never lose the mental image of a man with no feet!


Picture Credits:

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