Every year, on Christmas Eve, my dad uttered those same words. Though we always vowed to wait until Christmas morning, the biggest kid in the family couldn't. Although Jewish, and definitely not a believer in the reason for the season, he never begrudged us our celebration. He embraced the image of Santa Claus, and didn't mind at all that my mother, a Protestant who loved Christmas, decorated everything to the hilt. Until I was old enough to realize the difference in religions, I had no idea that my mother and father shared quite different beliefs. It didn't dampen the love they had for one another, and it certainly didn't cause problems that affected me or my siblings.
Christmas hasn't been the same since my father died. That last Christmas the whole family shared together in 1985 will always remain special to me. My then husband, me and my children had come from Northern California to spend the holidays in Southern Cal. My father had been ill for sometime, but seeing the gauntness in his face and his listless movements told me he wouldn't be around long. When we left, I think I cried all the way home because I knew I'd never see him again. I was right. On January 28th of 1986, I received a phone call from my sister telling me our father had passed. Nothing can quite describe that moment of shock, that emptiness that invaded my soul at hearing her announcement. Even though I expected that call, there's no way to ever prepare for it. Whether you know someone is going to die or they pass unexpectedly, the pain is the same. My dad was my security blanket, and I had to work hard the coming years to learn to stand on my own two feet. I still miss him and his assurances that everything would be fine. If he said it, I believed it.
Since no one's ever come back from death and told us what awaits us, I guess we can only continue to hope and pray that there is something wonderful beyond this life. If there isn't...well, then I'll be thankful for the time I've spent here, the friends I've made, and my earthly father who made me proud to be his daughter despite his having little pride in himself. I love you Daddy, and I hope you know how much you were loved and appreciated. Christmas just isn't the same without you.