This year I will be celebrating my 44th Christmas. As I’ve looked back over my previous Decembers, I realize how much I love this time of year: Christmas music, twinkling lights, cooler weather, and family gatherings. I remember dressing up for candlelight service, opening one present Christmas Eve (always an ornament from my grandmother) and decorating cookies. When I was about six, I swear I even saw Santa Clause and his reindeer flying high up in the sky.
But a few of the “44’s” have not been as merry. I vaguely remember the year my deputy-sheriff dad was in the hospital during Christmas after being stabbed. In high school my dad suffered his first heart attack. Four years later he died from his second heart attack right after Christmas.
Over the 44’s I’ve realized that Christmas is not about the newest iPhone, video games, or the “must-have” toy of the season. It’s the gift of time. The gift of family. The gift of loving others and knowing you are loved. The gift of giving.
The most important gift I received from my dad was his final one. He had a will. And although I didn’t get much—his baseball jacket, some pictures, and his service patches—he took care of me the best he could at his death. His will reinforced his love. It was his way of continuing to protect me. There was simplicity in his final act of love.
And that is a true gift.