So, here you are, Peter Pan. You've gone and grown into a great, big man. The oft-spoken refrain "I don't want to grow up" was one you made your own. Dear boy, you lived your childhood to its limits. You sucked every single drop of sweetness from its days. I am still amazed, struck dumb, with wonder of it all, with the utter joy of the privilege of having a front row seat for these precious years of your life.
It surprises me a little that you're graduating early; you've never been especially eager to cast aside your childhood days. But it seems perfect to me that you are graduating in December. You really know how to rock this month. Christmas is a special gift for people like you--people with childlike hearts.
Remember Christmas in Hawaii? No, you probably don't. You were barely a year old and you went around telling everyone "Mele Kalikimaka." You still like the way those words tickle your tongue.
Remember the Christmas of Michael Jordan and Peter Pan? Two little figures. All you wanted. Good thing, too, because it's all we could afford. But you brought them to life in your own inimitable way and they were worth more than all of FAO Schwartz. And the Christmas of the "gum-tar"? You brought it to Mass and Fr. Bob asked you to play. Remember the Christmas of the John Harkes jersey? You wanted to be him; now, you are grateful to call him friend and you amaze him and the rest of us with your tenacity and dedication to the game.
Remember every single Christmas of crafting and painting and making and baking? You inspired unbounded creativity in my heart and in our home.
Remember the Christmas of your First Communion? In the Bellarmine Chapel at George Mason. How much growing you've done in that chapel! How much learning and loving!
And so Christmas comes again and it finds you with a sparkling new diploma, on the threshhold of your grown up life. You've learned so much, lived so much. You've done good things. And, you've sown some seeds of regret. You've grown. Your Christmas list this year is decidedly practical: a job, a car, dental insurance.
Where's the magic?
Now, there is Real Life.
It's not so bad, Peter Pan. Real Life is a good place for people with childlike hearts. There is a wonder in every day, even in the most mundane workaday places and people. Real Life is a rich place for people who love to learn. You are going to learn way, way more in the next ten years than you have in the last twenty. Real Life is a place of genuine creativity. You will write your message on the hearts of countless people and you will create home for the people you love. Real Life is a place of joy for those who love without limits. So, go do that. Take that childlike faith, that trust in goodness, that heartfelt courage, and love without limits.
The whole world waits.
And watches with immeasurable pride.