I wrote the following post 2 years ago, after we’d lost Dad. It still resonates today, and this year, it will have a new poignancy while we continue to adjust to a new person in the family picture. For all those who are remembering someone dear this Christmas, this is for you…

It’s not the Christmas Eve phone call that I’ll miss. I never particularly liked rushing out to the shopping mall on the busiest day of the year because he hadn’t gotten around to buying Mom a gift.

And it won’t be the delay he caused each year by picking the very moment everyone was ready to open presents to go outside and feed the pigs.

It’s not his stubbornness or his lack of focus. It’s true – some things will be easier this year without Dad. I’ll get to relax on Christmas Eve. We’ll open presents sooner. We won’t have to plan meals around his unorthodox schedule.

But it’s the sound of him I’ll miss. His voice as he sang “Who is He in Yonder Stall?” His annual reading of the Christmas story in Isaiah or Luke – before any gifts could be opened. The silly sounds out of his mouth while he drifted off to sleep on the couch – still trying to participate in the family cacophony. His inquisitive tone as he pondered a new Christmas question – why does tradition assign the number three to the wise men? What makes us think Mary was riding a donkey?

It’s the feel of him I’ll miss. His shaggy whiskers on my cheek when he hugged me hello. His work-worn hands when he patted my shoulder in greeting or congratulations. His insistent fingers as he tapped my hand at the busy Christmas table to get my attention so he could share his musings.

It’s the smell of him I’ll miss. The Old Spice aftershave lotion he saved for Sundays and Christmas. The lingering odour of the barn embedded in his hair and the blankets Mom covered the couches with.

It’s the sight of him I’ll miss. The tilt of his head and the tiny grin that said “I’m happy to see you” louder than words. The bushy eyebrows over twinkling sky-blue eyes as he teased the grandchildren. The freckled hands cradling his well-fingered black leather King James Version Bible. The gentle smile saved especially for Mom for picking just the thing he needed for Christmas.

We’ll still gather at Christmas. We’ll still eat a big meal and exchange gifts. We’ll still read from the Bible – probably even from the same black leather Bible he fingered for all those years. We’ll play games, we’ll laugh, we’ll sing a few Christmas carols. That’s what we do at Christmastime – we won’t change that because Dad died.

But the heart of it won’t beat the same way this year. The Bible won’t sound the same from someone else’s lips. “Who is He in Yonder Stall” will sound empty without his voice or his unique line of questioning. Mom won’t get that special smile, and I won’t feel his whiskers on my cheek.

We’ll still celebrate the birth of Christ, but it will be the death of Dad that will hold captive our thoughts, our tastes and our smells.

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