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"Being Right Next to My Father"

It's amazing how some things can trigger certain memories. Things such as the scent of chimney smoke, cold air, snow, christmas trees and lights, seasonal recipes, family gatherings, holiday songs, and so many other things remind us of special memories of our past. In our family, we have plenty of memories to look back on.

As Christmas approached, one of the things we enjoyed doing as a family was driving to the eastern end of Long Island, selecting our own Christmas tree, and then cutting it down. Often we left on a Saturday morning and designated the entire day just for our family. I can recall the excitement we had as we hopped in the suburban (family truck). We had our saws and plenty of rope to tie the tree to the top of the suburban. Dad always asked me to bring a Christmas tape to play in the truck. It was an exciting time for all of us.

One of the biggest challenges for us was selecting a tree that would fit in our living room. As three boys, that was the last thing on our minds. We wanted the biggest and fullest tree we could find. So once we found a tree, the negotiations began. As little attorneys we tried to convince our parents that this tree was the one. We didn't care if was twenty-four feet in height. We could cut it to the height of the room and donate the rest to Rockerfeller Center. Obviously we didn't know what we were talking about. Our emotions and pure excitement led the discussions. Any semblance of wisdom was nonexistent. We were excited because it was the holiday season and that meant a lot of different things for all of us.

For me, it meant spending lots of time together as a family. From selecting our Christmas tree to decorating the entire house with Christmas lights to watching holiday specials on TV, there was something about this time of the year that created a sense of excitement. If you can believe it, even when I was away at college, whenever I knew I was coming home for the holidays, those same feelings would always surface.

It's definitely different now without my father. Dad and mom always had a way of adding something extra special to each holiday. There were always so many errands to do, presents to buy, and foods to prepare especially during the holidays. But no matter how hectic things were, we were happy to be together. Although I may not express this to others, I miss my dad especially during this particular time of the year.

The image above with the pine needles and cones reminded me of when my dad would retrieve the Christmas lights from the attic and spend an entire evening with us, decorating the outside of our home. We would screw the Christmas bulbs in their settings and then lay them in the bushes. As it got darker out, the lights would appear brighter and the house began to stand out even more from a distance. Little did I know that it wasn't the lights that meant the most to me; it was being right next to my father. I looked up to him then and still do today.

One day when I have children, I will pass on that same tradition with them. Thinking of that warms my heart because I know very well how much fun that was for me. In honor of my parents and the traditions they created, we will not only pass these on to our families but create new ones as well.