Letter #677: Emerson’s “Shake It Off”


Dear Emerson,

Hey buddy, it’s me Lindsay, your aunt. You won’t understand this now, but I’m writing this because I know one day you will.

About 32 months ago, I received the news I’d be an aunt again. I’m not sure there’s a more exciting role in life that requires as little responsibility! I get to love on you and laugh with you any time I want, but at the end of the day when you’re dirty, tired, sick and cranky, you’re not mine to handle. I get to share in most of the highlights of your world, but I miss most of the hard work. Not a bad gig if you ask me!

As you were growing in your mom’s belly, I prayed for you often. For your health and development, but probably even more for your salvation. About 5 months in, you mom’s belly was really starting to turn into a basketball. I received a call at camp in the middle of the summer telling me you had Down’s Syndrome.

Not the call I was expecting about you. If anything I thought the fam was going to tell me you were the girl they still don’t have. Instead, this news ensued doubt, fear, questioning and more. We all know people who birth “abnormal’ babies, but nobody expects it to be them. We didn’t expect it to be you.

Born 6 weeks early. 4 months in the NICU. Open-heart surgery. Near death. Miraculous recovery. Growing strength and ability daily. A smile that takes over a room and is rarely absent. Reaching for and befriending all you come in contact with because you don’t know a stranger. Love pats on faces and heads. Two and a half years later, the boy who is changing the lives of those near and far.

I don’t understand all the whys of life. It’d be easy to question why you aren’t “normal.’ But what is normal? Normal is easy. Normal is boring. Instead, in your extra chromosome, your ‘abnormalities’, you bring perspective to life like “normal’ never could. Instead, you are making each of us better, more compassionate, less concerned with the status quo. Instead, you are teaching those around you that God truly does have the ability to work all things together for good.

Thanks for teaching us in a unique way to “Shake It Off” and not allow culture’s view of normal to define us. Whether it’s a physical limitation, acceptance of wrong as right or pressures to look a certain way, your joy reminds me that my reaction to things dictate their affect on me. If I choose joy like I see in you, those things can’t define me.

Thanks for softening me. Thanks for bringing us more laughs than you know and for your latest obsession with Taylor Swift. I’m sorry your parents torment you during your naps, but your dance moves are just so cute! I won’t be shocked if the “Shake It Off” lyrics are your first words!

{Seriously, you have to go watch these videos of Emerson and Shake It Off! He’s on EllenTube and YouTube! Feel free to share these and bring joy to others!}

Buddy, know you are loved and still being prayed for.


Aunt Lindsay


Here are other posts for the rest of the story:

Letter #658: Oscars Observations

Dear Oscars,

On a night filled with glitter, glitz, fame, fashion and all of Hollywood’s finest, you did not disappoint.

From Ellen ordering pizza, to John Travolta butchering Idina Menzel’s name, to my sister texting me to ask if Ellen really broke Twitter, you had some good flair.

And don’t forget Meryl Streep’s shimmy, Jennifer Lawrence’s red carpet fall (the bloopers from her playing Katniss have to be hilarious), the selfie Bradley Cooper took with the most famous people in it ever and so much more.

I haven’t seen any of the films that were up for awards except for Frozen (hi, my name is Lindsay, and I work at a summer camp!), so my level of interest was minimal concerning who won. There are a few more movies on my list to see now, but I was mostly watching to laugh and be aware of what’s happening in culture. You met my needs.

I don’t love awards shows, but I half-heartedly watched part of you while getting my life in order for the week and read tweets after that made me laugh. Seriously, Twitter is at its prime during live events.

So in the midst of everyone else analyzing dress/designer choices, celebrity interactions and every other detail of these mere human beings lives that we tend treat as our modern day Captain Americas, I have three random thoughts:

  1. Making people laugh is not easy. Can you imagine being responsible for the entertainment of thousands at an event , most of which are entertainers themselves, on top of millions viewing from home? It can’t be easy, but when you’re good at it, it has to be the most fun thing ever. Ellen is really good at it. I have LOTS to learn before my future stand up career. 🙂
  2. Speeches. They’re either really good or well, REALLY BAD. You have to love a speech that pulls out of the self-centeredness that is Hollywood and points people to something greater. Lupita Nyong’o”s speech was remarkable. “…no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.” Keep dreaming world.
  3. Matthew McConaughey. I’m still trying to wrap my arms around him. He’s a bit all over the place, but I appreciate his authenticity. Again, he stepped outside of himself and made his speech more purposeful than it had to be. His ideas on needing “someone to look up to, something to look forward to and someone to chase” come with great depth. I don’t know what he actually believes, but thanks for acknowledging God’s role in your talents. Thanks for celebrating your family, specifically your wife and kids. It’s rare a traditional family, the kind seen scripturally, is celebrated these days. Thanks for thinking outside of the hero box and giving each of us something to strive for as well as pushing us to live with purpose when you said yourself in 10 years is who you’re always chasing. I’m sure I analyzed your words far more than most, but I appreciate the depth and vulnerability you showed.

All in all, you didn’t disappoint. I’m always blown away by the amount of money, time and energy invested in events like you, but I am also surprised by your ability to draw awareness through the celebration of cinema. Millions of people are more aware slavery still exists today because “12 Years a Slave” won Best Picture. Steve McQueen’s speech: “Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live”…I dedicate this award to all the people who have endured slavery. And the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today.”

Until next time,

Oscars observer