The love story begins, 1954
This won’t be the first year we’re having Christmas without dad.
He signed up for the Army shortly after he and mom got married. One of the earlier memories I have is of a time when dad was stationed in Korea. We were living with our grandmother on Maui, a sparse existence for us and a lonely one for mom.
We couldn’t afford a Christmas tree.
I don’t know whose idea it was, but someone dragged a stunted branch into the tiny old plantation house and we--mom and three little kids-- decorated it as best we could.
It was enough. We were still, at that age, too innocently dazzled by the wonder of Christmas to be truly disappointed. Mom may have cried in private, but in public she put on a happy face for us kids.
Besides, we all knew dad was coming home soon. He always did.
At this time of year people turn their attention to holidays, sacred and otherwise. They gather close their family and friends to celebrate with them. It’s a good time to appreciate the connections that make life meaningful and deep. It’s a good time to take stock of life’s priorities. And it’s a good time to reaffirm the truth of all human existence—that love, in all its forms, is what makes our world go round.
There are so many people hurting. Families staring at empty chairs at their dinner tables. People who’ve lost loved ones. We are not all whole and it’s silly to think gifts and carols can fill the void.
But we are resilient. We move on with our lives because really, what choice do we have? We try to keep up our traditions and work to recreate the joy—if not for ourselves then for those around us.
This year, please think of those who could use a little connection. Make some time for a lonely friend or neighbor. Reach out to someone who may have experienced a recent or not so recent loss. If you can, donate to a charity of your choice. There are plenty of people who need a boost to get through the holidays.
Be thankful for what you do have—family, friends, health.
Dad and me in 2005, shortly after our kidney transplant.
I said in the beginning, this won’t be the first year we’re having Christmas without dad. But it is the first time we know he’s not coming back. My mother, who lost her husband and best friend of 64 years, says it feels like he’s not gone, and takes comfort in her belief that she will see him again.
Our Christmas won’t be the same this year. But we will still take the time to create joy, to embrace love, and to share what bounty we have.
Merry Christmas, everyone. Mele Kalikimaka. Happy Holidays.
Dad, rest in love.