We like to keep it a secret, but Christmas can be hard. Social media posts of beautiful decorations and perfect family pictures mixed with the oozing-with-love Hallmark movies can overwhelm you at this time of the year. If you have suffered a loss of a loved one, a broken relationship, or difficult financial situations this year, you may not be the first in line to scream, “Ho, ho, ho.” This Christmas will be my first one without my daddy. As each day draws closer to Christmas, the small details tug on my heart and my tear ducts.
When I was a little girl, my daddy started the 12 days of Christmas with us kids. He didn’t grow up with much at Christmas or anytime of the year, for that matter. So, he worked hard to provide a good Christmas for us. Now, I do believe the 12 days of Christmas gifts were to help my mom get us out of bed, to the breakfast table and to keep us out of her hair. Each morning, there would be a simple dime store (dollar store in today’s world) toy in our plate. I still remember the excitement of jumping out of bed to see what toy I would get. As I got into high school, there would be a gift in a stocking for me to get before school. My high school friends enjoyed and looked forward to seeing each days little gift too. Daddy continued this until I was grown and pregnant with my daughter, Shelby. That year, the gifts switched to baby gifts for her. He, then, continued this tradition for Shelby until she got married.
This year in his memory, I decided to start this tradition with my sweet little grands. As I have shopped for these small items, I purchased some of the same gifts that Daddy gave…nail polish, dime store games, and M&M’s.
Oh, these inexpensive gifts flooded me with warm, happy memories and then a flood of tears flowed. Along with Daddy’s gift traditions, came his wrapping of gifts. Bless his heart, his intentions were great but his wrapping was not. Isn’t it funny how the thing that used to drive you crazy, is now one of the things you miss the most? This is how one of my husband’s Christmas gifts came wrapped from Daddy a couple of years ago.
These packages have been the source of laughter for years. There was nothing as fun as watching Daddy come into the house and explain how his wrapping took a turn for the worse.
So, when I started wrapping the grandbabies’ 12 days gifts, I decided to do it how it did it. No box. No tags or bows. Just wrapping paper and their names written with a sharpie. Each gift was numbered and gift #1 was always M&M’s. As I wrapped for Audrey, the flavored chapsticks that Daddy always got for Shelby and for me, I wiped tears. Daddy would be so proud that we are remembering him with this tradition.
So this year, as we celebrate the birth of the Savior; we remember those that have gone on to be with the Savior. Continuing the traditions keeps their memories alive. So many memories have swirled through my mind, some that hurt to the bone and some that brought healing. I am grateful for growing up in a home where we were taught about Jesus and all that Christmas means. My biggest prayer is that I carry the traditions and the message of Christ’s birth on with my kids, grandchildren and future great grandchildren.
“They say” that it gets easier with time and the firsts are the hardest. We will see. From my heart to yours, today we take comfort in knowing that God is the father to the fatherless.
Merry Christmas. Hug your loved ones and make those memories.