When I was growing up, I don't remember anyone giving me much advice about girls.
I think it was the same with all the guys I knew.
Folks just kind of left us on our own. We learned through our mistakes.
We still are, for that matter.
When we were growing up, our football coaches told us we'd be much better off and far less tired at practice if we stayed away from girls all together.
But these coaches also told us that wind sprints and two-mile runs were good for us.
I don't think we trusted them much.
And we didn't listen to their advice about girls, either.
Girls have always been very much a mystery to me.
So when I grew up, married, and we had a little girl - I had quite a bit to learn.
I had to learn it mattered that her clothes matched.
I had to learn to brush long hair, to do pig tails, pony tails, and curls.
I had to learn about barrettes and bobby pins and all the complicated paraphernalia that comes with little girls.
We have a son and two grandsons. They are wonderful and special. We love them very much.
But this story is about our little girls. And it's about a little dress I've come to understand and love.
My wife's mother bought this dress when our oldest daughter was 5.
It was a beautiful, little, blue checked dress with a high white collar and white trim along the sleeves.
Our oldest daughter, Jennifer, wore it.
She wore it to school for her kindergarten photograph. It was her first school photo - the dress took on importance.
When she grew too big, my wife put the little blue checked dress carefully away for another day.
Time passed, very quickly.
Another little girl came along, named Beth.
When Beth turned 5, my wife put her in the little blue checked dress.
The dress had even more meaning now. Two little girls had worn it.
Beth wore it to school for her kindergarten photo.
She really wanted to wear jeans.
When Beth grew too big, my wife put the little blue checked dress carefully away for another day.
Not long ago we stopped by our oldest daughter's house.
Our granddaughter, Kirsten, came running to the door. She was wearing the little, blue checked dress.
I picked her up and hugged her.
Three little girls and one dress - which at that moment reached sacred relic status.
Last weekend my wife, our two daughters and granddaughter gave me something very special.
It was a wooden picture frame.
Within the frame were photographs of three grinning girls with giggly eyes - each wearing the same little blue checked dress.
We've placed it on a wall. I look at it every day. It's like a doorway to happy memories that chase away senseless cares.
It won't be too long before our granddaughter has grown and can no longer wear the little, blue checked dress.
My wife will store it carefully away.
It is as pretty as the day my mother-in-law bought it. And there are more little girls who might come our way.
But pretty, little, blue checked dresses stay the same, waiting for another little girl to come along - bringing giggles to our lives.
I thank God for our little girls.
They are true joy.
Two have grown into wonderful young women. Another is one her way toward the doing the same.
She will succeed - all too soon for me, all too slow for her.
This is the way with life. Little girls grow up, take off on their own and leave their childhood wrapped in memories in your heart.
That's why I'm thankful for the little, blue checked dress.
It's always with us, wrapped away, waiting for new memories to be
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