Anyone who knew my father knew that he loved Christmas! The snow, the family time, the togetherness, and the true meaning of the season made his usual smile sparkle even more. It was always a magical time for Dad and my entire family.
On Christmas morning, once presents were open, he always had something up his sleeve. Somewhere, hidden in the house, was a big present that no one else knew about. I always looked forward to this; not the gift itself, but his excitement in knowing that he was about to surprise us. It was fun, absolutely, but it wasn’t what mattered. It was his presence, not the present, that was important.
Christmas of 2011 was a rough one for us all. Dad was going downhill quickly, and no one knew why. Doctors were stumped, we were sad, and it was clear to everyone that he may not be around for much longer. Still, he tried his best to push through his exhaustion, shortness of breath, and pain, and smiled. That year, however, there was a sadness behind it.
Fast forward to 2012. Dad was finally correctly diagnosed that year, had his surgery, chemotherapy, and a clinical trial, and was feeling great! I think this might have been the happiest I had ever seen him on Christmas. He laughed, joked, ate, and of course, surprised us all, as per usual! I will always remember his smile that day; he had been given a gift from God, and it was written all over his face.
The next year, 2013, everything was different. We were celebrating our first Christmas without my father, the glue who held us all together, only about two months after he passed away. We did our best to keep our traditions as normally as possible, only to find ourselves at a loss. We realized that Dad wouldn’t want that, so we tried to pick ourselves up and remember the reason for this day. God’s promise. The beauty of Jesus’ birth.
This year, we’ll be celebrating again, as we do each year. The addition of my three year old daughter adds a beautiful light, and looking into her blue-green eyes that look just like Dad’s, I remember all the memories I made, particularly on Christmas, with my angel father. I am reminded of the importance of family and the message of Christmas. We continue on, never forgetting, but keeping Dad’s memory close to our hearts.