To steal a phrase from Charles Dickens, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times’. I was eleven with not a care in the world. Not quite an adult, I still longed for that one perfect doll for Christmas.
My family was in distress though. My father was out of work, sick. At the time my sisters and brother and I were left in the dark about it all, we just knew that this Christmas would be pretty small. We never had much so we didn’t expect much. But Santa always had a way of making our lives a little bit better on Christmas morning.
Since my father was out of work, he did things that he never did before. He came to a Christmas play at school. He came to a chorus recital where I got to sing with the high school kids. He made candy and decorated the house.
And on Christmas Eve, his coworkers brought over huge boxes of toys and clothes and food. It was the first time I’d seen my father cry.
That was the best Christmas. The next year, my dad was in the hospital, taken out of the house on a stretcher – the tree glowing in the corner of the room. And that was the worst Christmas.
He died a few weeks later of leukemia – the day before my thirteenth birthday. But that one Christmas when he was home and well enough, he made our last real Christmas together the best I’ve ever had. I try every year to make the kind of memories for my own kids that they will write about someday, when someone asks them about their best Christmas ever....