I lost my sweet Dad on December 7th. Those of you who have followed my blog for awhile will remember a story I shared about him on Father's Day. Of course, our family all gathered for traditional goodbyes, as we should. I spent precious time with my mother and sisters, sifting through so many pictures that captured Dad through the years. There were hundreds, but the ones that touched me the most were from his childhood.
You can tell by this photo that Dad grew up during the hard years of the Great Depression. Even though times were tough, Dad always told us of how his own father made Christmas happen for their family each year. There was always a Christmas tree by the fireplace, stockings hung with oranges and sweets inside and a Tiddly-Winks game for a little boy. From his own father, my Dad learned the joys of the season and the strengthened bonds that grow out of family gatherings.
At the age of 14, Dad also lost his own father just before Christmas. He never told us much about it, but over the years I've often wondered how terribly sad that must have been. How could Christmas ever seem complete after such a hard loss? It felt to me as if a shadow must have fallen on the brightness of the season for him. And yet, my Dad was always full of holiday cheer as Christmas approached, looking forward to each December homecoming as his family grew up and on with their own lives.
But I understand now. My Dad's final lesson for me is perhaps the same one he learned from his own father's loss so close to Christmas.
Family matters, even or perhaps especially, during the hardest of times.
Joy is to be taken whenever it can be found.
Holidays, and life, are to be celebrated because both are far too precious and fleeting.