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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Itís Christmas Day (in the present or living memory) (11/27/08)

TITLE: Common Thread
By Rick Higginson


Christmas Day; when you have any more than about twenty-five of them in your life, the details begin to get mixed up. It becomes more difficult to remember which gifts went with which year, which events happened when, and where the holiday was spent. It saddens me that I donít remember more about particular Christmases, but there was always a common thread that ran through them Ė family.

The holidays paled some when work moved us out of state, and the drive to spend Christmas with our families turned into hours instead of minutes. We began skipping more gatherings, choosing instead to stay home and relax. It seemed people didnít quite understand what it involved for us to ďstop byĒ on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. It meant arranging time off from work for travel, and finding someone to feed the pets while we were gone. We would have more time in the car, rolling down the freeway, than we would have to visit. There were gas costs, and if we wanted halfway comfortable accommodations, the expense of a hotel. Many years, the trip just wasnít in the budget.

There are many Christmases that swirl together in my memory, save one. It was the year I had the definite impression early in the year that I needed to make the trip out and spend it with my family. Perhaps it was God whispering in my ear, or perhaps it was just seeing what was happening; Iím not quick to accept every thought that crosses my mind as coming from God, though He has certainly spoken to me enough times.

That was the last year Dad would be with us for Christmas.

I can still see him sitting in his easy chair, opening his presents. Some of what he received was so mundane; t-shirts, socks, and underwear. Some of what he received was precious Ė time with his children and grandchildren. While his disease was diminishing his ability to do many things, it hadnít yet robbed him of his ability to smile and express his love for us.

It would be this Christmas that I would learn one reason why so many other Christmas Days melded together in my mind; because he was a big part of all of them. I cannot recall a Christmas in my entire life when Dad wasnít home with us. He was never traveling over the holidays, nor was there ever a time when he and Mom had difficulties that caused him to live elsewhere. When the gifts wore out and the moments of the days were forgotten, those who had given the gifts and shared the moments with us were still with us.

Right up through that Christmas, when something or Someone told me to make sure I spent Christmas with my parents. It lacked the almost chaotic atmosphere of the larger holiday gatherings of my youth, when my grandparentsí children and grandchildren all converged on a single home for a huge gift exchange. That year was peaceful and warm; just my parents, myself, and my children and son-in-law. The gifts were opened in a very orderly manner, and later in the morning than those years when we kids would try to roust our parents out of bed as early as we could, eager to see what was waiting under the tree.

It was Christmas Day, and Dad was in his chair, and Mom was in hers, and the kids were sitting on the couch, and I was over by the television. The only person missing was my wife, who had not been able to get the time off from work to go with us. For the final time, Dad was making Christmas memories for us; smiles and laughter and love, and now I find myself wanting to capture that same feeling he gave us all those years. I couldnít remember a Christmas Day without Dad, for even when we were far away, there was still the phone call and the loving wishes.

There should have been some kind of ceremony or ritual that Christmas Day, to mark that distinction when my Dad held the common thread for the final time, and released it into my hands. Perhaps there was, and that was why I needed to be there.

I just couldnít see it until I noticed the common thread in my hands.

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This article has been read 760 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Janice Fitzpatrick12/04/08
Wow! I wanted to read more. If this is true I'm so glad that you did get to see your dad one more time. Family....the greatest gift next to salvation.:0) Happy Holidays! God bless!!!
Laura Anne Harrison12/04/08
WOW! What a beautiful tribute to you Dad! Well done!
Joanne Sher 12/06/08
A beautiful tribute with wonderful descriptions. Enjoyed this!
Karlene Jacobsen12/09/08
I think we all have a common thread like Dad. Mine was Grandma. Your story reminded me of her. Oh, how I loved going to her home and just being there where I knew there was loads of love and laughter.
Thanks for the memories.
Charla Diehl 12/09/08
As I read this I felt as if you were telling this to me because you wrote with such an easy conversational feel.
So glad you obeyed God's nudging this time and enjoyed one last Christmas with your dad. Good job.
Karlene Jacobsen12/11/08
Congratulations Rick! This was a great entry!
Sharlyn Guthrie12/11/08
Excellent entry. I love your reflections on the common thread. Congratulations!
Loren T. Lowery12/11/08
Congratulations, Rick. I enjoyed this entry and your writing style. You certainly have a gift for engaging the reader! Loren
Diana Dart 12/12/08
Tears well in my throat - the honour and love that you've expressed for your dad are just beautiful. Great, great job on placing, but just writing these memories down and sharing them with us must mean so, so much. Thank you.
Beth LaBuff 12/12/08
Hoomi--Congrats on placing with this creative and wonderfully written stories. These memories become so precious!