December 24 surprises me every year. I never quite know what to expect.
Late on Christmas Eve, 1993, my Dad died after a year-long battle with colon cancer. We were close. Even though he lived well for nearly 78 years, it was hard to grasp then that he was gone. And it is still hard to grasp, at some level. Over the years, I’ve noted it wasn’t the huge, profound conversations we had sitting in his pickup on our Nebraska farm I miss; we had many of them and he died with us in a marvelously wonderful relationship, nothing left to say. Rather, what I miss is just picking up the phone and talking about what’s going on, anything from understanding corn price movement to unusual comments by some distant relative to Notre Dame football.
This year, my own feelings are better than normal. Grateful for Dad and all he taught me by word and example. I feel that gratitude with my sons in adulthood and three grandkids growing oh-so-rapidly. Plus friends have recent pains. A Christmas letter yesterday brought news of the untimely death of a friend late this fall. Jenny wrote of her father-in-law’s death last week. All these things hurt. Even in the presence of the good relationships each had.
As we celebrate the birth of Christ this evening, my mind goes to my Dad. And it also goes to all of those who have someone missing. I hope and pray that space can be filled with thoughts of Emmanuel, God with us.
Merry Christmas. I’m grateful for all of my running friends!!