Many years ago, right after my father passed away, I wrote a short devotion about my favorite Christmas. Some folks reading this blog might recall the story, but it has taken on a deeper meaning now that I have four sons of my own.
As a child Christmas was an incredibly exciting time for us in Lake Mary, Florida. The parties, the letters to Santa, looking through the enormous J.C. Penny and Sears catalogues for the perfect present (I miss those huge catalogues—the last one printed was in 1993) and all the special music and church services. It was the anticipation of Christmas morning and what Santa and my parents would surprise us with consumed our imaginations. My brothers and sisters and I would wake up hours before daybreak to see what had magically appeared in the living room.
But of all the amazing Christmases, my favorite was the year my father made me a large wooden tool locker and filed it full of brand new tools. Wrenches, hammers, saws, baby jars filled with various nails, screws, washers; new jars of glue, wood-filler, varnishes and wood stains. I can still recall the smell of the recently polished wood that he used to make that tool chest and all the new packages.
My father made that chest with his own hands—-it was his creation for me. At other times he made my sister a doll house and other brothers other creations out of wood. But to me, nothing was so special as to know that this incredibly busy man and father of ten children could find the time to make me something this special and fill it with every tool a ten year old could hope for.
I took care of those tools for the next many years as well as any ten-year old boy could, but by the time I left for college all the tools were lost in the woods to one of the tree houses, forts, boats and lemonade stands I built. The old tool box was lost over the years—the victim of one my mom’s many, many “yard sales”. But the memory of that tool box and how it made me feel about my father’s love for me lingers—-and always will.
Recently I asked the three youngest boys in our home which Christmas they enjoyed the most, in their 10, 12 and 13 years. All three said “last Christmas”, because of the special things we experienced at breakfast, at the big dinner, in opening of gifts, with all the music, the smells, etc. I was touched, because as adopted children this was only their second Christmas with me; it seems that other celebrations were more about opening gifts and less about the special events that surround Christmas.
It occurred to me that I will never be the craftsman my dad was, but I can create a different kind of gift for my sons—-a home of love and laughter that will one day be more important than any clumsy gift I could ever manufacture. What I hope that they are receiving this Christmas and for the others to come is something stable that they can pass on to their children.
Am I making my home a “holy homestead” that my sons will want to come back to when they are grown, and is what I have given them something that they can pass on in their own blogs in forty years? Hopefully I am giving them something very warm and heartfelt this Christmas to talk about when I am long gone……