My mom went to visit my dad at the nursing home today. We're not sure what to do about Christmas, with the possible 1-2 feet of snow in the forecast. At one time we had hoped to bring him home for Christmas Day, but for a lot of reasons (1-2 feet of snow only being one of them) this doesn't look possible.
My mom told my dad that it was only 3 days until Christmas. "We'd better get some shopping done!" he said. However, he doesn't know Christmas is coming unless we remind him.
I associate Christmas with my dad, probably because he knew and liked to sing all of the songs from the old Bing Crosby Merry Christmas album. (We also thought he sounded a little like Bing.) We would always sing "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" when we went to pick out a tree. (This often coincided with the coldest night of the year.)
Most men don't like shopping (they say), but my dad seemed really to enjoy Christmas shopping. However, I had to do all of his wrapping for him, until I passed this task along to my more gifted sister. I used to really enjoy watching my dad pick out gifts for my mom for Christmas. He wasn't very good at picking out clothes, but you could tell he thought she was really good-looking.
One year my dad made a doll-house for my sister and me for Christmas. There were four floors, complete with carpet, furnishings and a doll family to live there. It's possible that my sister discovered this secret when she was snooping around the basement.
My dad also had a hard time keeping secrets. It made my mom a little mad, I think, when he gave so many hints one year that I knew I was going to get a record-player before I opened it.
I think Christmas was his favorite time of year. He liked the sentiment, the singing, the food, going to church (I can still hear him singing the baritone on the three-fold amen), and presents. For the last few years, though, he has taken to saying that "he really doesn't need anything."
This year it appears to be true. He doesn't really need so much. He doesn't go out, so he doesn't need a new scarf. And he just got new slippers. I would like to make him a prayer shawl, but I hear that everything has to have his name on it.
In any event, I won't get done by Christmas. I'll still make him one, and give it to him when I can. In the meantime, I'll remember that it's really true this year what he always says, "I don't really need anything."
Except the same thing that God always gives us: Emmanuel.