It’s Christmas Eve and also my dad’s birthday. This is our first Christmas without him.
In the picture above, my dad is on the right and my brother is on the left. Being Santa is kind of a family thing. I love Christmas and have lots of wonderful memories and traditions that I enjoy. But I miss my dad and find the sadness catches me by surprise sometimes.
Of course Santa is everywhere this time of year and most of the time I’m ok, but sometimes I lose it. I don’t feel bad about crying either. I’ve found that the sadness passes too, often as quickly as it comes.
My dad didn’t play Santa that often but he had the beard, the twinkle in his eye and the love year ’round. He really loved playing Santa and had a whole character down. He wasn’t a bored mall-Santa with an acrylic beard and vinyl boot toppers putting in his shift. He interacted with the kids, listening to them and asking them questions. He used to talk about “Randolph” the reindeer. Kids would try and correct him but he would insist that his reindeer’s name was Randolph.
Sometimes, he would pretend to fall asleep, snoring dramatically, because he was so exhausted from working in his toyshop. Some kids, usually girls, wanted to let Santa sleep, shushing others with a cautious “Shhh, Santa’s sleeping.” But others, often little boys, would tug his sleeve and shout at him “SANTA! Wake UP, Santa!”
So – I’m thinking about my dad and missing him. But I look around and see the familiar red hat with furry white trim. I’ve decided that Santa is a good way to remember him.
I made a pot of minestrone the other day using his recipe. Cooking is another good way to remember my dad. Making and eating the soup thick with vegetables, elbow macaroni and beans, topped with grated Parmesan cheese was like a little tribute to him. He enjoyed cooking and loved feeding others.
Our family will be gathering today and tomorrow and there is an empty place and a sadness with him gone. But his memory lives on in countless ways.
December 24, 1934 ~ May 24, 2012