Yesterday, as I was unpacking and sorting the Christmas decorations, I discovered a keepsake that I didn’t even know I had.
It seemed odd at first when I found one of last year’s Christmas cards tucked into the bag of tinsel and other soft decorations: my elves from Canada, Morris the Rainbear which my sister gave me decades ago, some plush toys in Santa hats, and all the tinsel.
And when I say “all the tinsel”, I’m not kidding.
There’s a lot of it.
I love that stuff.
The thing is, I don’t usually keep Christmas cards. I usually give them to the pre-school or school, where the kids use the pictures on the front or, in the case of the beautiful cards made by my very clever sisters, the whole fronts of them to make cards for their families and friends.
When I opened the surprise card, realisation was followed closely by tears welling up in my eyes: it was the Christmas card my father gave us last year.
I don’t know why I kept it.
I didn’t know then that it would be his last Christmas with us, or that it would be the very last thing I had with his handwriting on it.
When I saw his handwriting, all those mixed happy/sad feelings came rushing back. Tears from missing him so profoundly were mixed with laughter at how bad his handwriting was.
To say that Dad had lousy handwriting was no exaggeration.
If practically illegible handwriting alone were enough to qualify someone as a doctor, Dad could have been a professor of worldwide renown. It was a problem for as long as I knew him, and there were times when even he had no idea what he had written. More than once, he found that even though he had written a shopping list, by the time we got to the supermarket he had forgotten what was on it and neither of us could read it.
So, my attempt to transcribe what Dad wrote on this card may be inaccurate, but I think it says, “Jesus who came to suffer in our stead to the glory of his Father. For so was his wish.”
It’s such a classic Dad thing to do: just casually pop a little mini-sermon into a Christmas card. It’s such a lovely reminder of his love for Jesus and his desire for us to put our faith in Him, too. Among all the glitz and glitter and parties and feasting and end of year rush and revelry, the reminder of the true meaning of Christmas is as timely and important as it ever was.
I can tell you now, I’m keeping this card forever. It is on display on my grandfather’s bookshelf next to my chair, safely nestled in the lap of Teardrop, the bear who cuddled me throughout the afternoon and evening of the day Dad passed away, and mopped up more than a few tears along the way. .
It is an unexpected bonus having another souvenir of my Dad on display in my study this Christmas.
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