Christmas 2012…and it would be easy to forget the spirit in light of what has happened this year. What with Sandy and the senseless shootings, especially the one this week in Sandy hook that snuffed out so many of our precious little children. They are irreplaceable and whether you knew them or not we are all so much poorer today than we were just a few days ago.
Yeah, the Christmas lights shine less brightly this year.
The music sounds kind of tinny.
It seems like it may never get warm again.
And that’s unacceptable.
Because the music WILL get sweeter, the lights brighter and our lives warmer.
Christmas is important.
Most especially when the world seems cruelest.
So let me tell you a story.
About a hero.
You know my father got me my very first comic book. I was maybe, seven. It was a very beat up copy of Superman Annual #1. He got it from the junk yard from a box of old comics at a penny a piece. He actually brought the whole box home, but that annual is the one I remember.
He did a lot of little things like that, my dad. He taught me how to throw a curve ball, how to fight, camp and change a tire. He taught me how to take care of my pets and how to cook.
My dad taught me that hand outs are what you give to strangers but a hand up is what you give to friends.
Oh and by the way he also taught me that strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet, so it’s ALWAYS a hand up you are giving.
My dad was also a hero. A real, honest to Captain America hero in fact. He was a paratrooper during the Korean War and won the Bronze Star for bravery under fire.
But he was a bigger hero at home.
My dad didn’t have a lot of education. He never made a ton of money or got famous. And he died way too soon at the age of 52.
But in the too brief time that I knew him, my father never let us miss a meal or want for anything. Even though he often worked three jobs, he was never to tired to spend a few moments playing with my brother, my sister or me.
And every Sunday morning I would wake to the smell of bacon frying. My father making breakfast for the family so my mother could sleep in. To this day I always feel a tug in my heart when I smell bacon frying.
Of course my dad would wave all of that off and say I was over sentimental…actually he’d call me a sap. But as tough as he was, my dad may have been the biggest sap of all of us. He claimed that Christmas was just for my mom and the kids…but how his eyes would light up when the tree was trimmed and lit. And it was my dad who played that Crosby Christmas album so often that we had to replace it every few years.
One Christmas when I was four he brought home my first dog. A mutt named Missy. I had that dog until I turned eighteen. For years he carped at how much trouble she was. But when got, old and sick and had to be put to sleep. It was my dad who went with me to take care of her. It was the only time I actually saw him cry. He loved that dog as much as I did.
What a sap he was.
As sons get older, we sometimes drift from our dads. I don’t recall ever having a real argument with my father but we did drift. As I reached my twenties I was determined to find my life in the arts as an actor or a singer while my dad who had been a truck driver, laborer and cook thought his son should be a doctor, lawyer or some other more practical thing. Still he supported every decision I ever made…and he never missed a show I did…and he never…ever forgot Christmas.
I don’t think it is a stretch when I say that if I never got to be half the man or half the father that MY father was. But even being only half of what he was…is pretty good.
I hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas. That you hold your friends and family very close. Remember that you see heroes everywhere you look…even when you are looking into your own mirror.
Yeah.. I’m a sap…but I come by it honestly.
Merry Christmas…Happy Holidays.