Dear Julius,

By the time you are able to read this, I will be several years older, and you will be in elementary school.

Right now, you are just a peanut, having been in this world barely three weeks, and you don’t yet know what wonderful adventures await you.

But as your great-aunt — and I am indeed greatly blessed to have a grandnephew such as yourself — I would like to offer you a small preview of what is to come.

Already, you are 10 steps ahead of the game, as you were born of fine parents who love you dearly and have a large extended family that is tickled pink that you are here.

We will love you, shower you with gifts, tell you stories about your ancestors, and more than likely overwhelm you at family parties just by our sheer numbers.

But you will never be poor, either in finances or affection, as there will always be someone there for you.

When you graduate from high school, we’ll cheer you on. When you obtain your college degree, we’ll celebrate.

If ever you are ill, and I hope those times are few, there will always be someone at your side.

We are a good family — hardworking, caring, loving and steadfast. We like to have fun, but are fiercely serious about things that matter, such as integrity, treating others with respect and helping those less fortunate.

We are strong in our beliefs and like to debate political issues, but will listen to opposing viewpoints and defend to the death a person’s right to have them.

We do not tolerate racism, sexism, ageism, or any other of those nasty things that get people into trouble.

We especially don’t like wars (your great-great-grandmother was a Quaker), but acknowledge that some have been necessary. We still don’t understand why, if religious people are supposed to be loving and godly, they want to kill each other.

But let’s talk about happier things. May I impart some humble advice to my dear little Julius, who, I’m sure, will have the good sense to take what is worthwhile and leave the rest?

First of all, know that life is short, no matter how long your early years seem.

As you get older, you’ll understand that each year flies by faster than the last, and one day you’ll wake up and wonder how you got to be 57.

Second, because life is fleeting, squeeze out of it every bit of happiness you can.

Do what you love to do every chance you get. Read good books, watch good films, listen to great music and eat well. Eat healthfully. Travel much, if you can.

And as you reach far and wide, remember also that there is enrichment in simple things. Grow a vegetable garden, adopt an animal, help old people every chance you get, be sympathetic, know that for every good deed you do you’ll get gifts back threefold.

Your life will take many turns. Some will bring you happiness; others, sorrow. You will be disappointed at times. You will lose people you love, and that will cause you great pain.

But even in the darkest moments, take heart: Things will get better. Time heals. Happiness returns, I promise you.

I also promise that if you are grateful and kind and understand that life is a gift, you will always reap its benefits.

Love,

Your great-aunt

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 25 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]