Well good morning and HAPPY CHRISTMAS DAY, my friends! We are so happy to have had the most amazing year, and we are so thankful for all of the friends and family who have shared it with us. I truly can’t imagine a brighter future, or better people to share it with.
While you are all drinking your eggnog this morning, and while you watch your kids unwrap their holiday booty, please take a moment to think of those who can’t be with their loved ones, and those who are no longer with us. I will be thinking of my Dad, and of all the wonderful Christmas memories I have had with him (and the rest of the family) over the years.
My Dad was a great guy, well liked and lots of fun. I loved being around him because he made me feel important. The greatest gift my father ever gave me was the realization that being a girl didn’t make a lick of difference in what I could achieve. It never occurred to me that I wasn’t as smart, as funny or as entitled to success as a boy. My father always dreamed of having a son, and eventually got one, but for the first 8 years of my life, my sister and I were the only ‘boys’ he had, and he always gave us experiences that were not gender-specific. I remember being shocked later in life that some girls thought boys were smarter, or deserved more than girls did JUST BECAUSE THEY WERE BOYS. I was dumbfounded. I literally had no idea that anyone considered boys to be ‘better’ than girls. I think this simple fact influenced how I thought about myself, and what I could achieve as I grew up. When you give a child the gift of unwavering confidence and love, you give them the greatest tools to begin a life on their own. He was pretty great like that. 🙂
He wasn’t perfect though, far from it in fact. He had a bad temper and he usually didn’t seem to give a rats ass about Christmas. Having an amazing Christmas in my house was all my mom’s doing, not my Dad’s. I remember one year when my brother was pretty little, maybe 5 or 6 years old. The basement where we did our unwrapping and celebrating was covered with torn up wrapping paper, packaging and the rest of Christmas’s carcass. My Dad, being the hater of mess that he was, began stuffing the wood stove with piles and piles of wrapping paper, and cardboard. It probably took an hour to burn all the shit that was left from the melee. While he stuffed the stove with all the crap that surrounded him, he inadvertently burned some of my brother’s toys in the process, and he wasn’t overly apologetic about it, either.
A little while later, my little brother came downstairs frantically searching for one of the tiny little army men that were included with one of his gifts that year. I am not kidding when I tell you that the little man constituted about 2% of the entire gift, and probably .00002% of his gifts that year. We all ran to where he was standing in the room when we heard his anguished cries, certain his arm had been ripped off, or that he was entangled in some sort of machinery, just in time to hear him declare:
“This is the WORST Christmas EVER!!!!” (Said in a lispy-5-year-old dialect). My father gave him all kinds of shit about being ungrateful, but really, burning your kids presents is kind of an epic parenting fail in my books, lol.
We have laughed a lot about that day over the years, and it always delighted us to shame my brother with reminders of his holiday thanklessness. In fact, we would likely still be shaming my father about being the scrooge that burned Christmas if he was still alive. That’s how we roll in my family…equal parts mushy love and crippling taunting. 🙂
In reality, that little boy has turned out to be one of the most incredible, giving and thoughtful men I know. He and his wife, (my sister-in-law Katie) have all of the nieces, nephews, and children of their friends over for an annual holiday craft-a-poolooza. This year, in addition to all the other great stuff they do, they helped the kids make these awesome holiday cards, and then drew secret Santa names, so the cards would be sent to each other in the mail. Last week, both of my girls were delighted to receive their Secret Santa cards in the mail. I forget how much fun it is for them to actually get real mail addressed to them. They were beyond excited.
This brings me back to my original thought, about loving the family you have, and honoring the ones who are no longer here. I raise a glass to my father, who is certainly here in spirit. I think of you every day, and as I get older, I appreciate you more and more.
Christmas means different things to everyone, and for me, it means spending time with people I care about. I enjoy a beautiful dinner spent with people I love, far more than a gift. Anything that requires someone to share or give their time to me, makes their gift a beautiful reminder that they truly do care about me. Giving of yourself is truly the best gift that can be offered, in my humble opinion.
To finish this up, I want to include one of my very favorite Christmas videos. I will apologize in advance for the use of a certain word in the lyrics. I love the song, but I hate that word.