I have had three of my own
children and granddaughter. I have helped them to walk and talk. I
taught them a great deal as the developed into adults. After all that is
what a parent's job is along with loving them and caring for their physical
needs. I enjoyed that experience. Besides, I am proud of them.
In addition, I have gone to
college, graduate, and post-graduate school. I have also taught at the
college level for about two decades. As a student and instructor, I
understood that I was to learn and to teach. With all those decades of
educational experience, I missed a critically important lesson about
learning. I totally missed the drive that toddlers possess in their
wanting to learn about the vast world that lies before them. I was so
enmeshed in the teaching process that I never took note of their sincere desire
to learn as very young children.
Then when Jack came along five
years ago, things changed. I noticed his desire to know. "What are you
doing?" was the single most enlightening question for me when he was three
years old. I was teaching an online art history class, and he noticed a
painting on a PPP that I had put together. I told him that it was a
famous painting. Jack toddled off only to return several minutes later
and asked the same question about another painting.
I thought to myself that if Jack
wants to learn art history, I'll teach him. He knows four or five dozen
paintings and their artist. In addition, he knows about fossils, space
exploration, and the naming of Dreadnoughtus.
Owen who is now three and has
begun the same learning process. Jack's favorite painting is Marc
Chagall's I and the Village, and Owen's
is Vincent van Gogh, The Drawbridge at Arles with a
Group of Washerwomen. They both have a print of each
painting in their bedrooms and have a letter from Chagall and van Gogh talking
about each of their paintings.
This Christmas, Jack received
Claude Monet's The Garden at Sainte-Adresse.
Since I live on a lake, when Jack saw Monet's painting, he said that it looked
like my backyard. In Monet's letter, he explains impressionism to this
Your papa talks about your
knowledge regarding famous paintings all the time. Additionally, he has
shown you my painting of The Garden at Sainte-Adresse,
which I painted in 1867. When you first saw this painting, you said,
"That is Papa's backyard." It does look like his backyard at one's first impression.
When I painted years ago, I often
said that I would like to be blind and seated in front of an easel with paint
and brushes in hand. Then magically, I would be able to see and paint my first impression. Hence, the name of my
I know your favorite painting is I and the Village by Marc Chagall, but remember The Garden at Sainte-Adresse.
In the meantime, Merry Christmas
and many more.
Paint well young man; paint well.
He also got some fossils from Charles Darwin.
Merry Christmas. It amazes
me just how much you have evolved into a young man. Your papa talks and
writes about you all the time. He is so very proud of you. When I
was young, I had ten children and almost as many grandchildren. I know
how he loves you, because I love my children and grandchildren.
I gave your papa some fossils
that you and your brother will enjoy. I want you to have a tooth from a Spinosaurus maroccanus, which means "Moroccan
I thought you would love one of this
dinosaur's teeth. It was found in Morocco and is about 95-million years
old, which is older than your papa or me combined.
My other gift is an ammonite
found in Madagascar. It swam around about 100-millions years ago, which
also was around the time of the dinosaurs. You have one already, but this
one is cut in half so that you can see the chambers that evolved as it grew
up. Hence, this ammonite evolved into what we call the chambered
nautilus. I hear that you even drew a picture of one and know the poem, The Chambered Nautilus, by Oliver Wendell
Jack also received a letter from
the Dalai Lama and a kata.
This is a kata, which Tibetan
people give to special people at special times. You are a special person,
and Christmas is special time for you and your brother. Sometime, I would
like to give you a kata. This is how I would do it.
My brother, Dr. Norbu, gave your
papa a kata, which he took to Lhasa, Tibet and presented to the Shakyamuni Buddha.
Put your kata in your room; it
will remind you that you are a very special person.
His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama
I put Jack's kata on him while
Jack also received a nussknacker from Santa's Chinese elves who
paint Bi Lien ornaments.
Your papa wanted my elves and me
to make you a special Christmas ornament like Owen got last year. He
suggested that we would make another nussknacker
family that looked like this.
Do you know what nussknacker means in German? It is German
for nutcracker. Your papa has one that you have played with up in Crown
Point. So we made a nussknacker for
you. I hope that your daddy, mommy, and Owen like it also.