boy selling papers without shoes
When my dad was a young boy… (I think he told me he was about seven or eight,) he had to sell magazines to buy himself a new pair of shoes. He also told me if someone gave him a nickle too much in change, he would walk backwards, barefoot, in the snow to return it. Of course, he was just trying to make a point about honesty, but point made. I would never consider otherwise because of him and the lessons he wove throughout my life.

I remember as a young child, my dad making every Christmas very special. It was almost embarrassing to have someone see the presents piled high around our Christmas tree.

Christmas tree with presents

I don’t think that I figured it out until this year, but I realize now that he most likely, was trying to make up for his “lack of” in his young life and that he probably, was driven to be a success because of his hardships in his own childhood. Kind of like Scarlett in the last scene as she stands on her land (“Tara”) reciting that famous line from Gone With The Wind….


    “As God is my witness, I will never be hungry again.”

My dad was like a kid at Christmas time. He couldn’t even wait till Christmas day! We always had our Christmas on Christmas eve. As soon as it got dark he would reach behind his chair and tap on the wall and look up at the ceiling as if he heard Santa’s sleigh landing… we would look up, totally believing and then he would scurry us up the stairs telling us we better hurry cuz Santa would not come down the chimney till we were out of sight!

santa's sleigh

We would hear “ho ho ho” and big jingle bells ringing. Until finally my dad would call us as we would scramble down the stairs, always blinded by the movie camera bulbs as we found even more presents added to the pile and usually a big one like a bike or a “Santa present” and of course, our stockings were always stuffed to the brim.

Not only did he teach me how to receive but he also taught me how to give. He could make buying a present for my mom at the drugstore a special memory because it was all from just me! Funny, I never thought about it, but I pride myself on giving thoughtful presents. Listening and knowing what people like. I hate the White Elephant exchanges, because you are buying a random gift for a random person. Though I have to admit that I do like trying to bring the present that everyone fights over. Ahhh, a reflection on my dad again, I am sure.

When my dad died suddenly of a heart attack, I was twenty six, He left a lot of holes, though Christmas was probably the time I missed him the most. Not so much because of the thoughtful presents he would add day after day to the pile around our Christmas tree.


but I missed his childlike joy. I had just had my son a couple of years before, and he loved having a child in the family again, to bring back the magic. Of course, he spoiled him from the beginning. The Christmas before he died, Santa had bought an electric jeep for his two year old little grandson!

I think that something came over me, the first year without him. I knew that everyone would feel the excruciating holes that he had left and I guess I felt that I had to carry on his tradition of giving. That year, it was as if my dad’s heart for giving possessed me. I tried to fill his shoes. Funny, not until writing this TODAY, dozens of years later, have I realized that. In the past, I have gone into debt trying to fill his shoes.

I think it is kind of hard, when you come from a place of comfort and find yourself struggling rather than the other way around. This year, the presents can’t be piled high. My husband lost his job and though the prospects look good for the possibility of a new company working out for him, it has been a challenge. And though we have learned to cut back, The bills are all the same from the lifestyle we had become accustomed to.

We have a friend who has suffered with ALS from as long as we have known him. He is in the process of deciding about getting a trache. It is a matter of $9000 per month to just breathe! I figure that I am $9000 a month ahead, just because I can breathe! I can’t even wrap my head around the presents under the trees that won’t be opened this year because of that horrific act carried out at that school. I KNOW I am blessed. We are just heading towards our nine year anniversary of the earthquake that wiped out our store. (Story in my blog) :

That year, I learned the lesson about how stuff is just stuff.

And yet, I have been asking myself…what is my problem this year? I mean, I don’t even want a Christmas Tree. Well, I miss my dad. I do every year. It never lessens. But it is something more, this year. I have sat through the Christmas story hundreds of times. And know that I have understood and been touched and yet, this year, I think I finally understand that it is so much more than stockings hung by the fire. It is all about The Greatest Gift Of ALL. A Baby that we seem to forget about as we stand in the long lines. But this year, I have realized that Christmas is so much more. It is not about receiving presents or even giving them, it is about the faith and joy we find when we really remember what Christmas is all about.
It is where we build our Tara.

Baby Jesus

So this year… has been an especially hard one for me but I am looking at things differently.

This song… kind of sums it all up…

33 thoughts on “My Tara

  1. I’m so happy i went back and ‘found’ this one!! Such a touching tribute to your dad, and the blessing in it that while he is physically gone, the many wonderful lessons he shared are clearly being implemented in the beautiful life you have with your family. For better or worse, loss or gain, having these memories will always be priceless, and he’d be so proud of all the ways to give to all of us!! 🙂

    1. Ahhh Patricia, You are so sweet to go back… YOU don’t have to!!! I was just trying to buy some time while I was not writing here…. 😉
      I am glad you found this today though… How funny that you wrote about your daddy and happened here on the same day.
      I loved what you wrote about your dad. Sounds like two great guys raised us! 🙂

  2. Very beautiful and well-written. Reminds us that health and love are the two biggest gifts, not just at Christmas but all year. A pleasure to read – took me back to the things my Dad used to talk about to. Thanks for your likes on my pieces also! xox

    1. I found you because of a profound reply you posted on another bloggers blog! And love your blog as well!!!
      Thanks for checking mine out! Glad I found ya! 😉

    1. I close my eyes when I listen to this song and go back as far as I can remember and weave my way back to today… remembering so many Christmases… Some of the happiest and saddest times in my life.

  3. I agree, we have totally lost the meaning of Christmas … we are all wrapped up in the decorations, food preparing and the gifts that are getting more and more expensive every year.
    We are all about family over Christmas and we forget those that don’t have anyone … so this year a friend of mine and I will work at a soup kitchen during Christmas. She does it on a regular basis … I
    will join her more often from now on. Thank you so much for this thoughtful post … that Christmas is really about giving and a giving that has to happen after Christmas too.

    1. That is so neat Viv! What a wonderful thing to do! I almost wish I had thought of that… as even though I wrote this post, I stopped to print gift tags and saw your post so snuck in to see what you had to say and your sweet reminder was here, speaking volumes! As I sit smack in the middle of my office with presents piled high. Oh my… what the heck? 😮
      Please write about your Christmas experience! Can’t wait to hear!

  4. OH that is just beautiful Diane. I could picture you all looking up at the ceiling and running upstairs and then your Dad running around to create the whole fantasy for you, I mean for himself. If those flashbulbs went off, I assume there were photos?? I would LOVE to see one!! Perhaps looking back at the photos of your childhood will get you back into the Christmas spirit? No doubt the loss of the children of Sandy Hook has taken away many a Christmas spirit. Hugs

    1. I remember he would also point a plane with a red light blinking in the night sky and totally got us to buy into the idea that it was Santa’s sleigh! lol.
      The lights were from the movie camera but I do have some Christmast pics somewhere… I’ll have to look.

  5. What a wonderful tribute to your father, Di. It’s obvious that you loved him very much. Isn’t it something that those who we held dearest seem to have rubbed off on us in ways that affect us years after they are gone. My grandmother was one of those, and her teachings have lived with me all of these years. Isn’t it also odd that those whose lives originated in poverty and adverse conditions are most often the most generous, thoughtful, and loving.
    Wishes to you and your family for all the happiness, joy, and love the season can provide. Merry Christmas to you!

  6. Excellent blog… my dad was the same way, and he passed away suddenly when I was 25… Christmas has never been the same since, especially with my step-dad and his whole family over taking all of our family traditions. I could handle it better when my kids were young, but this year I don’t have a tree, wreath, but I do have a few presents. For me it’s still in giving my kids gifts and remembering the first Christmas. Family is Christmas more than stuff (to me)… I still miss my dad terribly this time of year especially, so I gain my joy by giving to people who need help but would never ask, and my kids… You know, last week I was thinking of devastating it would be to lose a child before I go myself…. but then I remembered that God’s son went willingly knowing what was coming… I think we often forget that God has been through that pain too… (I know… that was completely off topic…LOL… I was just thinking about how He gave His son for all of us.) I am very grateful for having had the chance of having another year of Life… I’ve lost several friends to cancer, so I am always reminding myself that I have been truly Blessed! 😀

    1. Keli,
      Thanks for taking the time to read and to share! You are so right. God knows the pain of losing His Son even though He knew He was going to be resurected. He knows the hearts of those parents. Thank you for the reminder!

  7. Dearest Diane, What a beautiful tribute to your dad…He sounds like an amazing man! Thanks for offering a much needed perspective of Christmas. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the commercialized version. Merry Christmas and Hugs to you and your family!

  8. I was touched to tears by your story about your dad, Diane. To me, he left a the most beautiful Christmas present every year after his death; the memory of his enthusiasm and love for all of you. It’s wonderful that you could share this. We also had financial disasters about three years back and it went on for a couple of years in which we learned to let go of a materialistic mentality. We simply informed everyone outside of our immediate family that ‘there’d be no presents this year’ and told them why. No one minded a bit. Since then, and now that there’s money again, we buy each other one well thought out gift. Then we have a good meal and appreciate everything else about Christmas.

    Thank you for a lovely story Diane. Lots of love to you.

    1. Yaz,
      You are so special to me. How funny that we have found each other…through our writing. I wish you lived nextdoor!
      Thank you for the time you have taken in my life.
      I love that you came out of your financial probs! Gives me hope!
      Love ya!
      Merry Christmas!

  9. You are a lovely story teller Diane especially about your Dad and “stuff”. There is too much “stuff” that kids want nowadays, it must be so hard for a Mum in your position to say no. May I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a great New Year with prospects fulfilled. Hugs. Ralph x

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