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(John Lennon reference)

It is THAT time of the year, a sad time even for some people who have not lost loved ones, who are not losing loved ones, who are not worrying about making early exits themselves.

It can be a depressing time, for sure, and that is well documented.

This year, my wife and I, our family, will be dealing with the loss of my father-in-law. So far, my wife, her brother, and their mom, they have done an awesome job with that. I suspect that the dam is about to break, but I have thought that before and they were stronger than I thought they would be.

Until he died, my wife had me to worry about, as I was in the hospital at the same time as my father-in-law, and even beat him to the punch in that regard. In fact, he came to visit me before he ended up, ultimately, in the same hospital. And she kept working. And I am convinced, I really am, that having someone pass over an extended period of time, while not easier in terms of toil and sweat, is probably easier in terms of coping.

I think that you begin to accept, or most of us do, as time goes by, and as our loved one goes deeper into the abyss, if you will.

That is just a theory, and has nothing to do with Christmas.

My father-in-law looked like Santa Claus, Santa Claus as most of us envision him in the United States, I think, a jolly old man with a white beard and all of that.

Early in their lives, both of my kids were convinced, or at least hesitant not to believe, that he WAS Santa Claus.

But he didn’t want to be Santa Claus. Or so he said. Can you imagine, every time you go into a store of some kind and being gawked at by children and even parents? 🙂

He acted like he didn’t like it. I think he did. But he would never dress up as the Jolly Old Elf, for whatever reason, and now he is gone.

He was my personal Santa Claus, by the way. You reach a certain age and you simply stop getting toys. But not with Harv, not with my father-in-law. I got BB guns, I got a multitude of remote control cars, trucks and such …. there was always a toy. A toy for me.

I will be honest. At first I thought it was kind of weird. At first we had no children of our own, so I didn’t understand the wonder of it the way he did. It was wonderful. It really was. I came to look forward to the toy each year. What would he get me that was different, that was not a tie or a sweater or a shirt or something else practical and useful?

I should add that Mrs. Claus, his wife, has been delivering musical instrument ornaments to me every year since I married into the family, and that this gets harder and harder for her each year :).

We are going to miss Santa Claus this year.

I do not know how we are going to deal with it.

I know that I am going to her house, Mrs. Claus’ house, tomorrow, to put up her Christmas tree, to take decorations out of the attic, to put the lights up. It forced me to do the same for myself (well, I am still working on the outside lights). I would not put up someone else’s tree, even Mrs. Claus’s, without getting my own tree up :).

I told Santa Claus, while he was in his last throes, in a hospital bed, that I would take care of Mrs. Claus. And of his elf :).

I do not think I have done a good job of that to be honest. Part of it, of course, is that I have had a few issues to deal with myself. That is no excuse. I have to do better.

Starting in the morning.

I leave you with this Christmas story, a true one:

I am the oldest of six children, and my dad was in the US Navy back when they didn’t pay very well, and I cannot say that we did not have wonderful Christmases because we did, but when I was 13 or 14, I was part of a small group of guys and girls, mainly guys, that went to this Catholic Church for Midnight Mass on the 24th. I was permitted to open one gift, as always, on Christmas Eve, and this time, I was pointed to a particular one.

It was a shirt, the ugliest shirt I have ever seen. Seriously. And that was the shirt I was to wear to Midnight mass. I cried. I cried in shame.

I told my mom that they were tears of happiness, because I did not want to hurt her feelings. I then wore that shirt, with other clothes of course, including a tie, to the Midnight Mass.

You know, I promise you: that became my favorite shirt. I think before then I didn’t know what Christmas was all about. That night I realized: it was about sitting in the balcony and spitting on bald guys’ heads in the pews below.


Merry Christmas, every one. I wasn’t sure I would get here, and some of you have doubts about the next one, I know. I’ll see you there.