Another Christmas day has come and gone. This is the first Christmas without my dad. It was a different one, to be sure, but I think we all did a good, bordering on great, job of focusing on the joy of this Christmas, all while reflecting on Christmases past without sorrow. I don’t think my dad wouldn’t have wanted us to focus on sorrow. I think he would have wanted us to focus on this Christmas, and the joy of the season. He was never an effusive man, nor was he one who bought many presents. My mom will tell you that he didn’t buy her a Christmas present for 14 years. So somehow I think he would agree with my thoughts on this Christmas.
On Christmas morning, as I stood at our Christmas tree and delivered presents to those gathered with us, my heart was full of joy. One of my favorite things about Christmas is knowing which present goes to which recipient and delivering them to those seated around the tree. I love watching the joy on others’ faces as they open something I think will put a smile on their face, but this year I was the lucky recipient of two extremely special gifts.
While I was shopping for Christmas presents, Stan said, “Why don’t you upgrade your phone. You’ve had that one for a while now and it might be time for an upgrade.” I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Eh, I don’t need a new phone. This one works just fine and besides the case is my all-time favorite.” It’s a case he had made for me a few years ago when I got my last phone. It’s my favorite picture of our three kids when they were three, five and almost eight. I adore the case because it shows a sassy, little Claire standing in between her two smiling, goof-ball brothers, and because Stan had it made knowing how much I love the picture.
This Christmas, he handed me a package and I opened it to see the same three kiddos smiling back at me from another case. Stan quickly said, “I didn’t get you the phone, but the case is ready for whenever you need a new one.” My heart couldn’t have been more full with those words and my new case. Stan made sure that a new case stands ready for whenever I might need it. I’m not sure he’s ever gotten me a sweeter gift.
But I have to say, my very favorite gift was given to me on December 23rd. It was the simplest of things, but it was the most precious. On Tuesday night Zach and Stan lit a fire in our fire pit and the five of us sat around, talked of Christmases past and made more memories to carry with us through the years. Our conversation turned to the simplicity of a time long ago when the belief in Santa was real and sweet and firmly held. Zach said, “You know, Christmas is so much better when you believe in Santa.” And he’s right, it is. For me, though, I still believe in Santa. This year, I had four Santas and they all came through. They gave me exactly what I asked for. It was the simple act of sitting together and talking, no electronics, no TV, nothing but us and a crackling fire and it was the most precious “thing” they all gave me this year.
These two things were just tiny, little things, but in the grand scheme of my life, these two little things added up to the most precious parts of my Christmas. I’m pretty sure my dad was smiling down on me.
Oh, for the love of my children….