Many of you know I lost my Dad to Alzheimer’s just last month. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him, but like many others who have lost loved ones, the holidays are a particularly poignant time to be without them. So many of my Christmas memories are centered around my family and, of course, my father was a big part of all of them. Going to pick out our Christmas tree and Dad insisting we get it heavily flocked every year; driving around with all the kids piled into the station wagon to see the Christmas lights; my Dad reading the nativity story from the Bible every Christmas Eve just before we went to bed to wait for Santa to come. So many memories that, if I dwell on them, make my heart ache, and the tears spill.
But instead of dwelling on loss today I want to instead honor his memory by sharing with you two of the most important gifts I ever received from my Dad.
Every Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember my parents would load all the kids into the family car for a late night “Secret Santa” run to the home of a family less fortunate than ours. We’d “doorbell ditch” the house, leaving the box that my Mom filled with presents, food and an envelope of cash. It was great fun and a tradition I carry on in my own family today. This is just one example of many I could share. My father came from very humble beginnings and even though he achieved success later in life, he never forgot the less fortunate and inspired me to want to do the same.
If there’s one thing my Dad will always be remembered for it is simply this…he loved his wife. This is a photo of the display table at my father’s funeral. It shows a photo taken of my parents at my daughter Britta’s wedding next to the actual personalized license plate that was on my father’s car when we lived in California.
My father’s love for my Mom is legendary amongst our extended family and friends. Every person who spoke at his funeral alluded to it in one way or another. The love my parents shared and modeled for my siblings and I has been a guiding light in my life and inspires me even now that he is gone. It is his legacy, it is a gift that keeps giving to me and everyone who knew him.
May we all show more generosity and love this Christmas and throughout the year. Not just to our significant others and close family and friends…but to all mankind.
This is the true spirit of Christmas.
Merry Christmas everyone!
“Our celebration of Christmas should be a reflection of the love and selflessness taught by the Savior. Giving, not getting, brings to full bloom the Christmas spirit. We feel more kindly one to another. We reach out in love to help those less fortunate. Our hearts are softened. Enemies are forgiven, friends remembered and God obeyed. The spirit of Christmas illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than in things. To catch the real meaning of the spirit of Christmas, we need only drop the last syllable, and it becomes the Spirit of Christ.”
–Thomas S. Monson