Years ago I wrote a little Christmas story about my dad. I was a teenager and we had gone over to one of his friend’s house for Christmas dinner that year. They were a younger couple with two little boys and their extended family lived back East. The wife cooked this huge holiday meal, and while she was busy tending to her holiday meal for all of us, my dad went upstairs with his friend Joe, to play some pool. And what we didn’t know, he also had some holiday cheer in the form of whiskey while he played pool with Joe. My dad, not much of a drinker outside of some beer here and there, stumbled down the stairs to partake in the huge holiday meal Joe’s wife had worked on all day long. On his way to the dining room, something caught his eye on their Christmas tree. It was a big, beautiful Christmas tree, full of lovely ornaments that had gently and precisely been put on the tree, then placed in front of their living room bay window. As my dad leaned towards the tree to admire a beautiful ornament, something happened. I’m guessing it had to do with the pool game and whiskey upstairs. In a matter of seconds, the Christmas tree in all its glory with its beautiful ornaments and lights was now lying in the front yard after it went through the bay window. My dad had apparently leaned a tad too hard on the Christmas tree and it had broken the window, landing outside. As my dad sat on the living room floor, where he landed with some of the Christmas lights wrapped around his head, I will never forget the image of him nor forget him saying, “bleep” did I do THAT”? My mom was horrified, especially after my dad then went home, and brought back his old poodle dog to join us all at the Christmas dinner table!
I guess the point of my story is not that everyone should be like my dad and make a scene during the holidays, but that I remember that Christmas fondly and it still makes me laugh. There was a Christmas, two years ago, that we went to get my dad from Assisted Living to join us for Christmas dinner. My mom had just died four months prior, and my dad’s Alzheimer’s was pretty bad. He didn’t eat much, was a little confused, but he did get to spend time with Riley on her first Christmas. As he left my house, he almost fell off the front porch, but my daughter caught him. Then, less than two months later, my dad passed away in February of 2007. In the crazy world we live in, and especially after what all has happened this past year in our world and economy, I try to remember the good times I spent with my dad and others I love. I’d rather laugh about my dad falling into a Christmas tree, than cry about how close to dying he was on the last Christmas I spent with him. We have to “choose” those holiday memories that make us happy and grateful for spending them with our loved ones.
Don’t forget to create those special holiday memories this season. It’s easy, enjoy those you love and get to spend time with. Don’t worry about the perfect gifts or the elegant table settings. Be grateful you have a table to set and put food on this year. Not everyone does! I know there isn’t one family out there that doesn’t have a moment or two they want to strangle someone across the dinner table during the holidays. But find some humor in that this year, lighten up, and just be thankful you are together creating those special holiday memories you will always remember. And a word of advice, never play pool and drink whiskey upstairs prior to a lovely Christmas dinner. Happy Holidays!