The Christmas season is upon us again, and there is the usual mixed emotions amongst us. The mood in our house this year is of hope, happiness, and love. I love the Christmas Season and the true meaning behind it. I am proud of the fact that my kids have all grown into mature young adults that are all making their faith their own. I am an extremely proud father who loves the opportunity to spend time with his kids. My three kids are all out of the house now so when they come home for a weekend, or vacation I am excited to spend time with them. I hope they all know just how special they are.
I was thinking today about some of the things that we did as a family while my kids were little. I remember putting all of the kids in a small wagon that I pulled around with an ATV. The ATV was part of a prize package that Cindy and I won in 1992 for being the State of Maine, “Young Farm Couple” of the year. We would often load up the wagon and go for picnics somewhere on the family farm. All of the kids loved doing this as much as Cindy and I did. In the winter we would hook up a sled to the four wheeler and pull the kids around, sometimes at a faster speed, which the kids loved. I remember the kids yelling to go faster and laughing so hard that it always got us all laughing. I long for those days now, and yet enjoy the age that they are now. They are self sufficient and confident. I remember raking leaves one beautiful warm fall day and jumping into the pile with the kids. We played in those leaves all afternoon, stopping periodically to rake the leaves into a pile again so we could do it all over again. I don’t think I ever got all the leaves picked up that fall, and it really didn’t matter.
We had a trampoline for many years and spent countless hours on it every summer. I would climb on there with all three kids and have the time of my life. The kids would lay down on the trampoline and I would jump up and down and they would bounce like popcorn, laughing their heads off! We would frustrate my wife sometimes because we would miss lunch or dinner as a result of not wanting to get off.
Another thing we used to do is plant a large garden. All of the kids loved, and still do love planting a garden. We have always raised all of our vegetables so the kids loved helping to plant the seeds. We had some of the most crooked rows of vegetables, but it didn’t matter because it was done by them. We loved planting seeds and watching them grow. Every evening when I got home from work we would go and see how much they had grown from the night before. They would get so excited seeing the seed popping out of the ground as an actual plant. One of the most rewarding things as a parent is seeing your children realize how and why we planted a garden in the first place. It was nice to peek out the window, only to see the tops of their heads. They would be sitting in the garden, eating vegetables for a snack, smiling with muddy faces and hands. They learned first hand how the vegetables that we eat every day started out as a seed and ended up on their dinner plates.
Another story that makes me smile every time I remember it, involves the Easter Bunny. Kids are so innocent and so gullible and they pretty much believe anything that their parents tell them. Well, it was the night before the Easter Bunny was to come and the kids each wrote a letter to him, telling him that they had been good that year and had left him some milk and carrots. This particular year my oldest daughter had asked the Easter Bunny for his autograph. This left me in a jam because I knew she would recognize my writing. as well as my wife’s. The family cat at the time happened to walk by and I instantly knew what I was going to do. After the kids had been put to bed I went and found the cat and dipped his little paw in some paint, and stamped that paw print on my daughter’s letter. The wide eyed look of the kid’s the next morning was absolutely priceless. The Easter Bunny had in fact left him his autograph. She was so, so, so, proud of the fact that SHE had gotten that autograph. There was no one else that we knew that had acquired that kind of proof that the Easter Bunny was real! I will never forget it.
These are just a few of the many things that I want to share with my children while I have the mindset to do so. Dementia is a nasty thing that I know will eventually take over my ability to speak and to remember the things that I treasure so deeply in my heart. For my kids, I will end this one with this:
I love you and that will never change even if I can’t express it. Please know that whatever the future holds for me, my love for you and your mother is so embedded in my heart that even if my brain wont allow me to tell you, I desperately love you all deep into my soul.