Positive Featured Inspirational Story - November 25 to December 28, 2006
Older folks tend to astound me with their wit and wisdom, and inspire me with their determination to continue living life to its fullest. As my own Dad ages he never ceases to knock my socks off, and last Christmas he did just that!
The first few years after Mother's death, I made sure Dad did not spend the holiday in his own home for fear he might dwell on years past and find no joy in the season whatsoever.
Then, last year Dad offered up an invitation to once again come home for Christmas. He even promised me it would snow in Kansas! That's when I knew how badly he wanted to host the celebration in his own home; we assured him we would be there with jingle bells on. I prepared several dishes that would freeze for traveling, with plans to cook side by side with Dad for the rest of the holiday feast.
On December 22nd, we loaded up the dogs, food items, gifts, and headed north. The temperature dropped considerably the farther north we drove, and I found myself getting excited even though I was apprehensive. I just couldn't fathom Dad opening the door alone upon our arrival.
We rounded the corner of Dad's street and my mouth fell open. Dusk had fallen and I could see new outdoor decorations. As we pulled into the driveway, we were greeted by a herd of twinkling, mechanical reindeer! I could not believe a man 88 years of age would be buying new decor, not to mention climbing a ladder to hang lights on the eaves of his house. The deer were whimsical, but I was ready to scold him about ladder climbing - after a recent 'knee replacement.' Mercy!
Actually, I forgot to scold him! No sooner did we enter the house than my mouth fell open again! There stood a beautiful, new 6 foot-tall Christmas tree, with ornaments spaced perfectly. I wondered how many days he had worked at that. Guess he knew if they weren't perfect, I'd be puttering around with them. 'Gee, Dad, you have a beautiful new tree! But, what was wrong with your other one?' I was baffled.
'Oh, I never did like that other tree and Mom said we didn't need a new one at our ages.' His eyes danced and he continued with details of finding the perfect tree, and getting a bargain to boot.
The dining room table was decked out with fine linen; a task I had assumed would be left for me. I commented on how nice it looked - plus the fact he had already 'dressed the table.'
'Thanks,' he grumbled, 'but didn't you even notice my new candle holders?' Oh no! I had hurt his feelings - I made a record-setting, split-second apology. I still don't know why he needed new ones as there were several sets in the china cabinet.
Everywhere I looked was a new decoration, or and old favorite from years gone by, and Christmas CD's were playing in the background. I was amazed! How did he do all of this, and how long did it take? Even though he's still young at heart, his arthritic back is a source of pure torture. Still, he had somehow managed to create a picture-perfect holiday happening.
We finally hauled our luggage to the guestroom only to discover electric candles in the windows, and a floral Christmas arrangement atop the makeup stand. I giggled aloud and wondered if there might be bright red sheets under the bedspread!
I was almost afraid to check the guest bathroom for fear he'd bought some of that lovely holiday print toilet paper! Whew, just a couple of candles . . . the stores must have been out of the cheerful tissue, or I'm sure he would have bought some just for kicks.
The desserts displayed in the kitchen reminded me of a Martha Stewart segment on TV. Cookies, cakes, and pies, all made from scratch, and several kinds of homemade candy beckoned from kitchen countertops. He had been cooking up a storm! In addition, Christmas candles, holiday hand towels, and such were scattered here, there, and everywhere.
My head was spun as I gawked around the house. No sooner had I plopped down on the couch to catch my breath, than the dogs began begging to go outside. I opened the backdoor and was nearly blinded by the light - Dad had decorated the deck! It was dazzling with numerous strings of flickering lights draped around the railings. 'Oh my gosh, Dad! You've never decorated the back of your house - have you lost your mind, or what?'
I've never seen such a smug look on anyone's face in my entire life. 'Well, I figured the doggies would enjoy it when they went outside.' His eyes sparkled much like the deck lights.
The next day friends and neighbors began dropping by to visit. Without fail, they each asked what I thought of Dad's preparations, and they all reported he had been on a 'mission' to surprise the dickens out of me. It seemed nearly everyone in town knew what he'd been up to. As for surprised? You bet I was!
Just as when I was a child, this now-older Santa had made Christmas as special as possible for his now-older, little girl. Never in my life had I felt Santa's love quite so deeply . . .
Written by Kathleene S. Baker
Kathy resides in Plano, Texas with husband Jerry, and two precious pups, Hank and Samantha. She enjoys writing, needlework, and fishing. As a freelancer, she has contributed to newspapers, anthologies, magazines, online ezines, Chicken Soup for the Soul and writes a weekly column entitled The Heart of Texas.