This past Christmas, my dad did a lot of the shopping, and he did it early. This was pretty amazing because my parents were always a bit last minute with at least a few things for the holiday, but this year, everything was taken care of, and much of it was done my my dad himself.
He’d picked out two toys for every grandchild and had them wrapped and under a Candyland-themed tree he and my mom picked out this year. That was one of the best Christmas presents he shared with the family, and it was chosen specifically for the kids. It’s really such a beautiful tree all covered in white with bright-colored lights and candy-shaped ornaments. Sometimes we could hear all five of the grandkids gathered around the tree feeling and looking at the gifts, and wondering what they were. On Christmas Eve, Macie and Madison fell asleep in its light on the floor, visions of sugarplums literally dancing above their heads.
My dad had also purchased surprises for my mom and placed them under the tree the morning he left this world. There was a note on one of the gifts we’d find a few days later that was so kind and fun it made us all cry. He’d also surfed through Amazon and chose most of his own presents because he was probably so excited about many things like usual. All of the gifts for me and Travis had been purchased, wrapped and sent to us, so when we left for Utah unexpectedly on Dec. 17, we put them in our suitcases so we could open them there. We took everything with us except for a present for Stella which we opened early. We found out my dad picked that one out, too.
I tell ya, my dad loved Christmas, and he really loved surprises.
On Christmas morning, my sisters-in-law and I all got a pair of boots – picked out specifically for each of us by him. My mom said when they went shopping for those, my dad had her sit down and he’d go around and choose the boots and have her try them on. The pair he picked for me was perfect – I loved them right away, but they were just a half size too big. Before Travis and I left Utah, we went with my mom to exchange them, but since Macy’s didn’t have any in stock that day, the cashier said they could be shipped to our home. That seemed like the easiest thing anyway, so we made the exchange and I think Travis and I flew back to New Mexico that night.
The boots arrived a couple days after we got back from Disneyland, and for some reason, I didn’t open them for days. I had a hard time doing a lot of things that week. I think a part of me felt sad about opening my last Christmas present from my dad, even though I already knew what it was. I think another part of me was just lazy, and it was hard to do normal things, even when it came to opening packages in the mail.
Over the last few weeks, there have been frequent reminders that my dad left a lot of fun lasts for us. For me, there are those boots and I wear them regularly now. They were on my feet the morning “Take it Easy” came on the radio, which I remember being a really good day. I also wore them last Wednesday when I was hoping for some good luck.
While biking, I’ve put on the outfit I got for Christmas that he and my mom picked out together for me, and pretty soon, we’re going to put a ride tracker on Travis’ bike – also chosen by my dad.
Just yesterday, we also had a dining room table delivered. We purchased it using money my parents gave us for our wedding. We’d saved that money for more than a year, always with the intention of getting a real dining room set once we bought a house. I’m sure my dad would love hearing that we’ll no longer have to use a card table and folding chairs for every meal, even though it didn’t ever seem like he minded when he came to visit in October.
From here, I don’t know if there will be any more tangible gifts from him, but maybe I’ll be surprised. It’s possible we might come across things here and there for a while, and I’m pretty sure he sent the missionaries to my house last week.
Now I watch for my dad in the sky. I look for him in the moments I get to see sunsets and the moon. I feel watched over when something lucky happens. The last few days have been hopeful, and I’m happy for that.