Jacks 9th Birthday
Gifts from Famous People

Early this month on July 10th, Jack had his 9th birthday. A handful of years ago, I started a tradition of having gifts given to Jack and his brother from famous people. The famous people not only gave him an appropriate gift but also a letter, which was signed by the giver. Along with some books, Jack received a letter from Neal Scanlan, Henryk Magnuski, and Leo Tolstoy. The letters contain a Happy Birthday greeting, a picture of the giver, a description of their gift, and some thoughts and ideas for Jack.

Jack first read the letter from Neal Scanlan and then opened Scanlan’s gift of some small dinosaurs.

July 2019


I hear that your birthday was on July10th. You don’t know me, but my name is Neal Scanlan. I live in England. I work as a visual effects artist. I worked on the Star Wars sequel trilogy, Babe, and various movies. I love creating dinosaurs. This picture is of me and a dinosaur. Doesn’t he look real?

Neal Scanlan

Since it is your birthday, I decided to get three toy dinosaurs for you. You and your brother can pretend that you are playing dinosaur soccer. Actually, I don’t know whether dinosaurs played soccer.

At any rate, have a Happy Birthday.

Take care,

Then Jack read Henryk Magnuski’s letter. He was a Polish inventor who immigrated from Poland to the United States. Jack and his brother got walkie talkies from Magnuski.

July 2019


My name is Henryk Magnuski. I was talking with your grandfather the other day, and he told me that you were having your birthday. I decided to give you and your brother a walkie-talkie as a gift for your birthdays. I helped invent and perfect the walkie-talkie. Below is a picture of me and the other one is of a soldier in WWII using one of my walkie-talkies.

Henryk Magnuski

The set that I got for you is more modern, lighter, and a more advanced version than the type during WWII. You and Owen can play hide and seek with it. I hope that your birthday will be fun and that you get a lot of gifts.

Happy Birthday,

Finally, Jack received a letter and a microscope from Leo Tolstoy. I wanted to get Jack up to speed with this famous Russian writer and teacher. I mentioned that he probably never heard of Tolstoy, but, in the middle of my sentence, he interrupted and said that he had heard about Tolstoy from one of his favorite TV programs for children.

Tolstoy wrote in his letter to Jack regarding getting his education but more importantly using it wisely. Tolstoy wrote, “The vocation of every man and woman is to serve other people.”

July 2019

Dear Jack,

Your grandfather just wrote an essay about me, and I just read it on his webpage. However, I don’t know whether you ever heard my name. It is Leo Tolstoy, and I lived most of my life in Russia writing books. When you get a little older, you will read Anna Karenina, War and Peace, and The Death of Ivan Ilyich. However, like your grandfather, I love to teach especially young children like you and your brother. This is an old photo of me with two of my students.

Leo Tolstoy

Your gift for your birthday is a microscope. I would have given you one from my home in Russia, but this one that I bought is newer and nicer. Use it to learn. When you grow up, use your knowledge to help other people. I wrote this in one of my books, “The vocation of every man and woman is to serve other people.”

Birthdays are a time to celebrate and to learn.