Sunday, December 15, 2013

Some Soup for Your Soul

I can’t believe Christmas is almost here. Can you?
And since it’s been a rough year for a lot of folks, me included, I decided to veer off my usual course—give you something uplifting—and share a Christmas story. This originally published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tales of Christmas and Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Gift of Christmas. (Check sidebar on the right for links to the books.) I hope you enjoy. God bless you all.

In My Father's Eyes
Deborah K. Anderson
It had been more than twenty years since my father’s death, and Christmas loomed a few months away. As always, I missed Dad terribly. Not only did I long for him, I needed to remember—things I was afraid of forgetting.
Dad had a way of making me feel special, smart, pretty—all the things I didn’t usually feel around others. The love was always there—in his eyes. And when I saw this, I knew everything was going to be all right.
Knowing Mom would have what I needed, my husband and I went to her place the next day. I hauled out a box of her old pictures, searching for photographs of Dad, while my husband read the paper.
Sifting through the box, I came across an old 5x7 photograph I’d never seen. Dad’s classic smile lit up his face. My gaze traveled toward his eyes, until something distracted me—moose antlers.
Huge antlers stuck out, one on each side of his head.
Can you believe that?
I finally figured out, thanks to Mom, that someone snapped the photo at the Moose Lodge with Dad standing in front of the mascot. Antlers and all, I still wanted the picture.
A few hours later, I hopped into the truck and flashed the photo in front of my husband. “Isn’t it great?”
“What’s up with the antlers?”
I flipped my hand. “Oh, it was taken at the Moose Lodge.”
“Oh… that’s too bad.”
“I still want a copy.”
I set the picture on the compartment between the seats. “Whatever you do, do not lose this.”
“I’m not going to lose your dad’s picture,” he said, as if I was accusing him of already having done the deed.
We arrived home and went into the house. And can you guess who went off and left the picture in the truck?
The next day, when I finally remembered, I called my husband’s cell phone. “Do you have Dad’s photo?”
“Yes, dear, and it’s fine.”
“Oh, thank God. Where is it?”
“I’ve already put it inside the compartment, so it will be safe.”
“Well, just don’t forget it when you get home.”
Ahem… like I did.
“I won’t.”
My husband came home from work, and I bolted into the kitchen, holding out my hand. “Well?”
“It’s out in the truck.”
“Is the truck locked?”
“Yeah, but I’ll get it the next time I go out.”
I jiggled my hand. “Give me the keys.”
“Oh for Pete’s sakes, Deb.”
He fished his keys out of his pocket and dangled them in front of me.
I grabbed them, went out and unlocked the truck, reached inside and flipped the compartment open. When I saw Dad and his antlers, relief washed over me.
After I returned to the kitchen, I pulled open a drawer on the china cabinet and slipped the snapshot inside, vowing to copy it later.
Did I mention that I’m a serious procrastinator?
A few days before Christmas, I remembered the snapshot, so I went to the china cabinet and pulled the drawer open.
The photograph was gone.
I fished through papers, trinkets, and more until I finally reached the bottom.
When my husband came home from work, I again bolted into the kitchen. “Have you seen Dad’s picture?”
He tossed his keys on the counter. “What are you talking about?”
“You know—the one with the antlers. Weren’t you standing here the day I put it in the drawer?”
“I don’t know. I don’t remember now.”
I rolled my eyes. I don’t know. I don’t remember now.
A few days later, and still no picture, I made the mistake of saying something to Mom.
“You lost your father’s picture?” she said.
Why couldn’t I keep my mouth shut?
“No, Mom. I misplaced it is all. I’ll find it.”
But I didn’t.
Ho. Ho. Ho.
I later wrapped the gifts for my husband, his family, my family, and then placed them under the tree. As I stood there, I noticed something.
Why weren’t there any presents under the tree for me?
Christmas Eve arrived, and we went to his parents’ house, as we did every year, and had a nice time with his family. They gave me gifts.
On the way home, a thought popped into my brain. I’ll bet he slipped my presents under the tree before we left for his mom and dad’s house.
We arrived home, and like a child, I went rooting under the tree—nothing there. I knew I’d receive gifts when my family arrived Christmas night, but knowing this didn’t help. A man should have a gift for his wife come Christmas morning.
Bah. Humbug.
Christmas morning.
I slapped my forehead. Of course, he was going to sneak it under the tree before I got out of bed. How silly could I be? I snickered with glee, like the child I used to be.
Christmas morning arrived, and my husband, who looked like the giddy child I was the night before, asked if I was ready to open gifts.

I looked under the tree—still nothing.

How dare he?

I waved my hand. “You mean your gifts?”

I walked over, retrieved his presents, and dropped them on the coffee table in front of him. He patted the sofa. “Aren’t you going to sit by me?”

Did he want to survive to see Christmas next year?

I sat down.

He opened his first two gifts, ever so happy, while I sat there and pouted.

Hello? What was wrong with this picture? (No pun intended.)

He paused. “I have to go to the bathroom.”

I cradled my head in my hands, secretly hoping he’d fall in. The next thing I knew, a large package came sliding across the floor in front of my feet. I raised my head, and my eyes widened.

He smiled and pointed. “Open it.”

I ripped the paper off, gasped, and then bawled.

Right in front of me sat a large framed picture of Dad—the one with the antlers, only the antlers were gone. It looked like Dad had posed in a professional studio—a heavenly one at that.

“How did you do this?” I croaked.

“Thought I didn’t get you anything, didn’t you?”

His chest swelled, bless his heart.

“Oh, and I had it digitally re-mastered for you,” he added.

I stared at the picture. Memories of Christmases past, even those I thought I had forgotten, flooded my heart as I looked in my father’s eyes.

“Thank you,” I said, suddenly noticing the same love in my husband’s eyes as he looked at me.


I hung the picture, knowing everything was going to be all right.