I celebrated another Christmas without you. The tenth Christmas without your smile.
I came across a quote today: Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory. When I was young that quote certainly applied. You were my dad, you were always there, it never crossed my mind that one day I would have to celebrate without you.
It’s been ten years since I sat next to you at Christmas dinner. Did I ever tell you that was one of my favorite Christmas moments? Every year as we sat down for dinner, me in my chair to your left, you smiled at me, that great, big, warm, beautiful smile of yours, the one that made me feel loved and cherished, the smile that I felt was mine alone.
For many, many Christmases I looked forward to that very moment. And every year, as I returned a smile that was yours alone, I thought how fortunate I was to be your daughter and how much I loved you. I’m so grateful that I recognized how precious those simple smiles were, and that I never took them for granted.
In over fifty years of Christmases, we spent only a handful apart. I know you worked hard for all the presents that Santa brought us throughout the years, and I’m sure it brought you pleasure, watching us rip open the packages and squeal with delight. And although I did enjoy those presents, it was never about the gifts.
One Christmas, I don’t even remember how old I was, maybe 8 or 9, I went with you and your friend George to pick out our tree. I felt so special to be included, and I can still picture that night so clearly. As we drove I pressed my face against the car window and watched the Christmas lights twinkle on the houses and stores. When we arrived I hopped out of the station wagon to a wonderland of pine trees. It was a frigid night and my excited breath came out in small white puffs. You held my hand and we strolled among the aisles of trees, examining them from all angles until we found the perfect tree, which you and George tied to the car.
It was a big tree that filled the corner of the living room and trailed the scent of pine. We decorated it with the big-bulbed, multi-colored lights, that were popular in the sixties, and sparkling ornaments, some of which decorate my tree today, and lots and lots of tinsel! It was a beautiful tree, and the memory makes it even more so.
Those are the memories that have stayed with me, Dad. The ones where your quiet presence kept my world in place. So on my tenth Christmas without you, I want to acknowledge all you have given me: all the special moments we shared, all the love and laughter, and to tell you I will always miss you. Always. Forever. And every Christmas, when I see your empty chair at the table, I will smile and remember your great, big, warm, beautiful smile, the one that was mine alone.