When I was six years old I was crazy about the Beatles. So much so, that my grandpa gave me a diamond ring and told me it was from Paul McCartney. I’m sure the ring came from Murphy’s Five and Dime (or a Cracker Jack box), but with all my little six-year-old heart, I believed that diamond was real and I would marry the cute Beatle as soon as I was allowed to leave the backyard without my mom.
That was probably the last time I believed in “diamonds,” both literal and figurative, and I am so grateful to my grandpa for that gift. I remember the instant I put the ring on my finger–the butterflies, giddiness and the feeling that I could just about fly. Grandpa didn’t tell me I was the prettiest or the sweetest. He told me Paul loved me because I was smart, I had a smile that lit up the room, and my heart was as big as the world. He said I was a princess.
To this day, when I think of princesses I think of charities, defusing landmines, feeding the hungry and giving solace and comfort to the sick. For a very long time the ring “from Paul McCartney” reminded me to do good, so on the occasion of my niece Cielo’s sixth birthday, I hope to bestow upon her the same kind of lasting gift as Grandpa gave to me only instead of a diamond ring, because frankly, you don’t need a mate to be a princess, I am giving Cielo a tiara to remind her that the job of a real princess is to be smart, generous, gracious, kind and loving. I so hope she believes the tiara is real, because in many regards, it is.
Feel free to borrow the following letter to create some magic for the little princess in your life.
We do not speak of it in public, but you are now old enough to know the truth about who you really are. Many, many years ago when dragons roamed the earth, your ancestors were queens and kings, princesses and princes.
They were beautiful people inside and out. They were kind to animals, they made sure everyone had plenty of food to eat, and they were the first ones to help whenever anyone needed helping.
Today, the princesses are very strong. When a big person falls down, the princess can help him up with even her tiny hand, because the love in her heart does the lifting. When you see someone helping an old person across the street, tenderly petting a dog, giving food to someone who is hungry, or sharing what she has with people who have less, you are probably looking at a princess.
Three hundred years ago your people chose to live in ordinary houses instead of castles. They decided not to wear long gowns, heavy jewels and crowns. Instead they look like everyone else so that they don’t stand out. They don’t brag or look down at anyone. They are kind.
The princesses are very smart. They work hard at school so that they can write their own happy ending—however they dream it should be. They read lots of books, make plenty drawings and paintings, some play music, others dance ballet, but they all have one thing in common—and it’s the biggest secret of the true princesses. Her smile is magical.
There is no light bulb or candle that can light up a room like a princess smile. It doesn’t come from a silly joke or a birthday present. Her smile comes from the brightest, lightest most radiant place in the universe—her heart.
Your heart is where your true royalty lies—where the castles and dragons still live, and where you can fly, sing and dance in the clouds, but you must lock it in your heart. Being a real princess might make other people feel less special, and one of your royal powers is making everyone feel good about themselves.
It is important to the family that you behave like a princess at all times. If an older person needs help, you will not hesitate to help her. If someone is very hungry and you have a sandwich, you will share. You will only treat animals with kindness, for the dragons that your ancestors grew up with treated the people with kindness (when they could as easily have eaten them all up). You will study hard. You will be good. And most of all, when you just can’t keep it a secret one more second, you will smile—and without a single word everyone will know that you are a real princess.
Happy birthday, Princess Cielo!