At times, days and weeks go by before my dad ever comes to my thought. Lately I have had strong remembrances of family, my mom, dad, and grandma. Usually it comes stronger at the holidays, especially thoughts about my dad. For some reason he loved Christmas. The funny part is I am not sure he did much to make Christmas happen in my house. My mom bought or more likely made our gifts, staying up many all nighters to get them done in time, wrapped them, and put them under the tree often at the wee hours of Christmas morning. She made the cookies, desserts, and homemade gifts for friends and teachers. To top it all off, she also made a meal for Christmas eve, our Christmas morning breakfast, and a big meal on Christmas day. I think my dad was into the decorations. The Santas, elves, sleighs, and nativity scenes.
In January, my dad will have been gone for 15 years. We put up our Christmas tree on Sunday, and somehow I have convinced Chris to keep white lights in a tree outside our living room window year-round. My dad would probably smile knowing that I am trying to keep that Christmas spirit. I think about him as I watch my niece grow up and wonder what it would be like for him to have his first grandchild coo and crawl all over him. Next weekend he would have been 73. I see him (when I notice) as I walk down our hallway of family photos. I am pictured at my niece’s age, head full of curls and he, covered with a beard in the late 1970’s. I think about him when I find a favorite childhood book and remember my reading to him. Those were those moments when I remember he was most calm and patient.
I wonder at times what it will be like when I have kids of my own, and how many times I will wish there was a contact in my phone that said: Mom and another that said Dad. Would they text with me? Would they meet up with old friends on Facebook? It is so hard to know, they have been gone for so long that I no longer know who they would have grown to become. Yet, I will do what I can each year to continue the Christmas spirit in my own way, however it may feel right each year. Whether that means to dote on my niece who does not have my mom and dad to dote on her, or whether that means to donate toys to kids in my community.
What I think my dad wanted was to feel apart of something bigger than himself. We can all do that in so many differing ways, all keeping with the Christmas spirit of giving.
Yes, it brought tears to my eyes. And, yes, I have mentioned before that I do not cry often, but sometimes the little things bring tears to my eyes. It is usually when I am moved by something unusual. I do not often think about regrets from my life, but there is one thing that I think about usually every Christmas. It is a random item, but it is something I wish I still had. Each year around Christmas we would make different Christmas cookies and treats to have leading up to Christmas Day. Some we would give to other friends and families as gifts and some were for us. Whatever was still left on Christmas Eve I would leave out for Santa with a glass of egg nog and write him a letter.
While I cannot remember how old I was, or when it happened, eventually I knew that my dad ate the cookies and drank the egg nog. See, my dad had atrocious handwriting. Which is why I did not have to be Encyclopedia Brown to figure out it was him. You are probably wondering where I am going with this story. Well, the few years after my mom passed on, my dad was going through some rough times and we were not in close touch. While going through my mom’s things and knowing we had to get rid of as much as possible or pay to store it, I got rid of those letters. Partly because of space and partly because my dad and I were not so close at the time.
Throughout high school and college, and when I was away during summers I never got letters from my dad. These letters from Santa could potentially tell me a bit about my dad and what ideals, inspiration, and thoughts he wanted to share with me through the voice of Santa. They are gone. So when I saw this video for Extra gum, the tears came to my eyes. The gum wrapper origami birds would have been my letters from Santa.
Any tears? If so, call your dad, or your mom, or whoever you thought about while watching. That very person who made you feel loved.