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Christmas Fun

December 19, 2016


Brenden, my three-year-old son, was a quiet child, well behaved and a bit shy most of the time.  He hadn’t yet discovered the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, or He-Man and Castle GreySkull.  He loved to play with cars, trucks, and stuffed animals, of which, like his mother, there were many.  Each one had a carefully chosen name.    

It was my first Christmas as a single parent, and rather daunting.  How would I balance work, pay the rent and babysitter, put food on the table and still make Christmas fun for my three year old son, I wondered?

The ringing of the telephone brought me back into the here and now.  I answered on the third ring.

It was my dad.  The one person in my life who never initiated a telephone call.  Fear clenched my heart.  “What’s wrong?”  I asked.  “Did something happen to mom?”

“No,”  he laughed, “Mom’s fine.  You can talk to her in a little bit.  Can I talk to Brenden?”

“Ummmm… sure, Dad.  I’ll get him.”

Brenden bounced to the phone.  It was probably the first time the phone had been for him.

“Hi, Grandpa!”  He chimed.  “Uhhhhh…  a big kangaroo.  Bye, Grandpa.”  Brenden dropped the phone and left it swinging like a pendulum on a spring against the wall.  Off ran the boy, on a mission to give each of his stuffed animals a ride in his favorite Tonka truck before I put supper on the table.

I talked to my mother;  asked her what that was all about.  She explained that my dad wanted to know what Brenden wanted for Christmas.  We chatted a few minutes more, then ended the call.

A week or so later, my mother called.  She sounded a little frustrated and asked if I knew of a store that sold a big kangaroo.  She said that the only one she could find was at a hardware store in town and cost forty dollars!  An outrageous price for a stuffed animal, albeit a large one, back in 1983.  I promised to look and let her know.

My search for a stuffed kangaroo was fruitless, which caused my mother no small amount of dismay.  “Your dad is determined to buy Brenden a big kangaroo,”  she shared,  “but the only one I can find is forty dollars.  If I can’t find another one, I know he’ll insist I go back and spend forty dollars on a stuffed animal!  That’s outrageous, don’t you think?”  

“Yes, Mom, it’s outrageous.  I’ve looked in every store in town and I can’t even find a little kangaroo.  I’m trying…”  

Mom was frugal;  Dad, not so much.

That was the last kangaroo conversation we had before Christmas Eve.  I assumed she found a less expensive one;  maybe a smaller one.

On Christmas Eve at my parent’s, there was a large box near the tree; far too big to fit beneath.  The box was nearly as tall as Brenden!  Imagine his excitement when he learned that the biggest present was for him!

Brenden excitedly tore away the gift wrap and peered into the box…  his eyes grew large as he exclaimed, “It’s a BIG KANGAROO and a baby TOO!”

He dubbed them ‘Kanga’ and Roo’.  Of course.

Back in the sixties, my dad made sure that Christmas was fun for my brothers and me.  Then, in the eighties, when grandchildren came along, he did the same for them.

Dad died last year at Christmastime.  Tomorrow, December 19th,  will mark the first anniversary of his passing.  For me, it is a bittersweet time with sad feelings of missing him buoyed by joyful memories of him at Christmas, making things fun.

Rest in peace, Dad.  I love you.

  1. Greg Frosig permalink

    A wonderful tribute in memory of your dad, Karen.

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Thank you, Rondi.

  3. Don Ludemann permalink

    Thanks for sharing a wonderful memory! Season’s greetings to you both! Don

    On Sun, Dec 18, 2016 at 8:31 PM, ofmiceandmenopause wrote:

    > ofmiceandmenopause posted: ” Brenden, my three-year-old son, was a quiet > child, well behaved and a bit shy most of the time. He hadn’t yet > discovered the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, or He-Man and > the Castle of GreySkull. He loved to play with cars, trucks, a” >

  4. Karen, that was such a wonderful story. I never knew your dad had such a tender heart. Much love to you today as you remember your dad. Wouldn’t it be a great blessing if only good memories of people stayed with us after they pass? I hope all your memories of your late loved ones will only be happy ones. Love you my friend….and Merry Christmas!

  5. Thanks, Robyn! Love you, too! Here’s wishing you & your a blessed Christmas!

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