It seems like the older I get the less magical Christmas becomes. When I was a little boy I could not wait for Christmas to arrive. It was difficult to get any sleep the night before. I was filled with excitement for the things I’d get to unwrap on Christmas morning. As I began to get older and life began to change Christmas became a little bittersweet.
My dad died in September of 1989. That first Christmas without him is when the magic began to fade from the holiday. It was a profound sadness that first Christmas without a father. Holidays after the loss of a loved one are never quite the same. However, you learn to cope and life goes on, albeit, in a much different way.
As my brothers and I began to grow and mature, life began to change in other ways as well. It was not long after my dad died that my oldest brother, Shannon left home for his first year of college. A few years later, my other brother Cory got married and left home as well. With the progression of time came changes to traditions. No longer would we always be together as a family for Christmas. A little more of the magic slipped away.
When my dad was still alive we’d all spend time together as a family on Christmas Eve. He’d read two stories to us. One of these stories was Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas. The other book that my dad would read to us was Boffo: The Great Motorcycle Race. This book has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. I am not sure how we even came across it, however, it has great illustrations. In addition, my dad had a very humorus way that he’d read the story. It seemed to jump right off the pages of the book.
After these two stories my mom would often read the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke. Then, if we were lucky we’d get to play, Twas the Night Before Christmas. This is a game where my mom would read the story, Twas the Night Before Christmas, and my brothers and I would get to change the story around in mad libs fashion. I am 42 and I still love to play this game. Yes, I do still have a juvenile sense of humor now and then.
As I have gotten older and traditions have faded, I have begun to realize that it is time to start new traditions. I am glad I have memories of the old ones. Those are memories that I will never lose. However, Christmas means different things to me now. I no longer feel like I need to get gifts in order for it to be Christmas. It was fun to feel the anticipation of receiving gifts on Christmas when I was a boy. But, I am content with the things that I have now. Sure, our house needs work, and my car needs new tires. However, I am thankful to have a loving wife and a wonderful family that cares for us in countless ways.
I am also thankful that Amanda and I will now be able to share our home with foster children. We will hopefully be able to start new traditions of our own. These traditions will be ones that will bring back some of the magic of Christmas. Along with the new, we can mix in some of the old. Emmet Otter and his jugband will be there. I am also hoping that Boffo and his motorcycle might be able to join us.
I’ll never be able to read that story as well as my dad did. However, through its reading he will remain alive in spirit. I will soon be the same age my dad was when he passed away. He will never be forgotten. A part of him remains alive in each of his boys.
Memories are what keeps the magic of Christmas alive for me today. My family is rarely all together for Christmas anymore. However, that is all right because we all have the same memories that bind us together no matter the miles that separate us from one another. Nothing can erase those memories.