#1 My love for UT Football and all things orange.
It's in my blood. In our family, we're not just fans. It's actually pretty intense. We sing "Rocky Top" like it's the National Anthem. If you go past a house where we are gathered to watch a game, there is a good chance you'll hear the yells and screams from the road. When an orange jersey is in possession of the pigskin, running down the field, we all stand up in unison, chanting things like "go, baby, go GO GO GO!" And I'm pretty sure our hearts stop for a second or two. I hope to pass this trait down to my kids as well. I mean, competitiveness and the affinity for the Volunteers truly is a major life skill.
#2 Just because you are your age doesn't mean you have to act like it.
Deep inside my 50ish year old father lives a 12 year old boy. Family get togethers are never dull. Dad adds tons of fun to any party with his shenanigans. Whether it's bursting into song, pulling pranks, telling a joke, or busting out his "nasty boy" dance, you'll be sure to laugh or at least share a knowing look and eye roll with another family member (that look that says he's at it again). Simply put, he's a fun guy. I've learned the beauty of a well fashioned build up to a punch line, the art of a good "scare", and above all not to take life too seriously. There's humor in every situation, and my dad taught me how to find it.
#3 OCD (organized, clean, detailed)
Want me to be honest? Growing up with my dad always getting irritated about minor details such as using a coaster, tucking in the sheets the correct way, or putting things away drove me INSANE. Dad's house is always in order, down to the magazines facing the right direction, "throw" pillows in the correct place, and t-shirts folded military style. But part of me is glad for it. There is a place for everything, and everything is in its place. It's better than living in a messy, dirty, cluttered home. I've learned to appreciate a neatly made bed, a clean house, and a well organized closet. I try to remind myself not to let it ruin my mood, though, if something is not clean or in the right place. And I'm already seeing signs of this trait in my two year old: toys meticulously lined up and facing the same direction, not leaving the room until finishing one task, etc.
#4 Family Is Most Important
I've learned from watching my dad that you do whatever you can for your family. No matter how inconveniencing or incredibly irritating the request or favor, you do it. You do it because you're family. And you love your family. No matter what. I am so blessed to have unbelievably supportive families on both sides. We all support each other in everything. No one tears you down. It is always fun. There is always love. We don't take ourselves or each other too seriously. I love that. It's comforting to know that we can mess up and not be perfect, knowing our family will still be there to help us out with love and support.
I love you more than words can say. I feel a closeness to you that most daughters don't feel with their fathers. In a way, I feel that we've grown up together. Since I started college, I feel like we both have matured beyond measure. You have become a father that I love so much, it makes me tear up just thinking about. Thank you so much for loving me and supporting me and telling me that you're proud of me. It means more than you know. I'm proud to have you as my dad and Aiden's grandfather. SO PROUD. I love you.