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.
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!
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.
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…