Dear Shannon, to celebrate you turning twenty-three, I wanted to assure you that despite the rumours, it’s not entirely true that nobody likes you. In fact, I wanted to try something new and take this opportunity to list the ways in which you have made a difference in your twenty-three years. The ways you have made people smile, the ways you have influenced those around you, and the ways you have touched our lives for the better. This is just a small summary of the things that have made you the person you are today;

  1. Your infinite soundtrack to life. Whether you’re washing the dishes or clogging up the shower drain, your phone is always playing a soundtrack for any occasion. Within hours of a new album release I am guaranteed to have learned all the words, whether I’d like it or not. You lose yourself in the music, the moment you own it, you better never let it go. Just a little something I picked up off the street.
  2. Your love for dogs is a joy to behold. Whatever the breed, whatever the age, they are always a “puppy” in your eyes. The affection you show for them is heart-warming, if not a little awkward, as you often greet them with intimate foreplay.
  3. You have an infectious laugh. Whether it’s something hilarious or seemingly mundane, laughing with you can turn those moments into lasting memories.
  4. You’re a story-teller. From listening to stories about your Papi, to the adventures you had growing up, you love to reminisce about your childhood, and it’s a joy to see that look in your eyes. Like this one time, at band camp…
  5. I like your booty. That is a nice booty.
  6. Any excuse to dance. Nobody puts baby in the corner. You love to get out and dance, and you always encourage our daughter to shake her tail feather too. To cut loose, footloose, and kick off those Sunday shoes.
  7. Incriminating evidence. You have a knack for capturing videos and pictures of me in peculiar situations that the world is not, and will never, be ready to see.
  8. Nerd alert. From what started out as a simple testing of the water has developed into something quite extraordinary. I can’t recall the last conversation we had, that a Harry Potter movie couldn’t be seen or heard in the background.
  9. You care deeply. While I was at death’s door with tonsillitis, you never left my side. Through all the vomiting and the shaking naked on the kitchen floor, you helped me through my week from hell, spoon feeding me medicine and tea until I was back to full health. There’s not a doubt in my mind that If I ever require suppositories, you will be there in my hour of need…
  10. Your determined nature. When you want something, there is very little that can stand in the way of you achieving it. Your powers of persuasion are something quite remarkable, if not frightening.
  11. That booty.
  12. You’re committed. Through all that we have been through over the past seven years, you have shown time and time again how committed you are to us and to our family, and the great lengths you would go to for the ones you love.
  13. A passion for baking. Nothing smells like a home quite like the aroma of freshly baked banana bread. Baking with you is always a personal joy of mine, not least because you let me lick the spoon.
  14. Nothing but network, Food Network. By now I feel like I know the majority of food network chefs on a deep and personal level. Yet I can’t complain, as in turn it has produced some of the finest meals that I have ever tasted.
  15. Hakuna Matata. You know how to relax and exude a calming influence over me. Reminding me that I don’t need to be wound up like a spring all the time, and that it’s okay to slow things down. Coming home from work one day, you greeted me with a warm glow. “Oh, good. I see you’ve already changed for bed,” I said, exhausted. “What do you mean, changed?” You smiled.
  16. Booty, Booty, Booty…
  17. You aim to please. Special occasions always bring out your creative side as you strive to make the people you love understand just how important they are.
  18. Salad. You love a salad. On the side. As the main course. As a snack. As a treat. It’s still an enigma to me how you would order a salad at a restaurant. I can fully comprehend relativity, yet this is a mystery that has eluded me for some time.
  19. Elephants. Anybody that knows you understands how deep your love for elephants goes, even to the depths of superstition. “I love this ornament, it’s just a shame it’s trunk isn’t raised,” you said, disappointed. “Nah, that’s alright, it’ll look great on the…” – “Don’t test me on this, Phil!”
  20. You’re supportive. Whatever it is. However big or small, I know that I will always have your backing, as will your friends and family. You always extend a helping hand in whatever the situation, and you have proved time and time again that you are always there to lean on.
  21. Love. You love so deeply and passionately. Your husband. Your children. Your family and friends. You have an enormous heart, and I know that there is even more to give.
  22. Dat ass.
  23. The way you make me feel each moment of every day. If I could celebrate you every day of the year, I would. I couldn’t imagine a person more deserving of everything that I have to give.

Here’s to twenty-three years, sweetheart. I may not have known you for all of them, but you’re the person I love because of them. Have a very happy birthday, my love.