(I hope you don’t mind, but this week I reworked an old column to express how much I appreciate the gifts God has given me and the love I have for my daughter. I hope you will indulge me this week and I hope you have a great Christmas!)
At this time of year everyone starts anticipating about what gift they will receive for Christmas. Kids love toys, lots and lots of toys. Women like jewelry; money and anything that makes them feel special. We fellows have our own toys. It may be a new car, gun, bow and arrow, tool set – just whatever, let us be men.
Over the years I have received some real nice gifts. Growing up my parents always made Christmas special. Whether it was a G.I Joe, the Evil Knieval action figure and motorcycle, a bike, boom box or whatever, it was always just perfect for that time.
As a grown up I have always receive just what I needed. Good clothes, “man toys” like tools and such. (Recently I received a cool shirt that helps me show support for my favorite college football team from Didi Roe and her family.) One year I got a gray jacket that I wore all the time because it was totally perfect.
Looking back I can think of three gifts that are the best I could have ever received. One of which we all can receive if we choose to do so. That would be God sending his son to this earth as a baby, to grow up, feel what we feel and die for our sins. That is the greatest gift anyone can receive. By far, it is on top of the list.
But on this earth, and thanks to God above again, the best gift I ever received came to me on Dec. 13, 1996. I didn’t know it at the time, though I was quite excited and torn up about it.
You see, that is when my daughter was born. We knew a child was coming, but I didn’t know if it was a girl or boy. However, an unfortunate medical problem created a dilemma. My wife had to have emergency surgery. At one point the doctors asked me if they could only save one, which one were they to help – my wife or my child.
And you thought you had some tough decisions.
Fortunately, despite almost losing both, they made it. Not long after that I got to hold my little bundle of joy. Because her momma was sick and recovering, I guess my little princess bonded with me first.
It is a bond that holds fast today, even if she did just turn 17 tomorrow (Friday). Those 17 years have been full of surprises, some discipline and a lot of fun and love.
Over the past six months I have watched as my daughter has been driving by herself, looking at colleges and actually talking about a future where I may not be there with her everyday. My little girl is growing up way too fast. Her momma wonders where did all the time go and I wonder if I have done my best over that time frame to be a father she can be proud of. Because she is a daughter I am proud to have.
As I watch her and her friends, I catch myself remembering days gone by. Like the day I brought her home and our first Christmas together. And a day at the Fort Boonesborough pool, her first plunge and she wasn’t even a year old yet.
Then I remembered days like the Baby Show Contest at the Powell County Fair or the times she learned how to finger paint and gave me a picture.
As she helped out this past weekend at a clothing giveaway with her friends, my mind wondered back to the early Christmases when she would open a gift and the wide eyed excitement you could see on her face was priceless. Then she’d want Daddy to play, and we did. (Fact is, I still like playing. But the Just Dance craze is not my cup of tea, not in public anyway.)
I can remember the nights I would come home from working second shift at the Fayette County Detention Center. I’d be tired and trying to be as quiet as a 300 pound man wearing combat boots and a full duty belt could be as I came in. I’d sit on the couch and turn on the TV, then I’d hear her little feet hit the floor and she’d come creeping down the hall. Slowly peeking in I’d tell her to come on and she’d jump in my lap, tell me about her day and we’d sneak some ice cream out of the freezer.
My how time flies and we never seem to fully grasp what is going on until it is gone.
I can remember for 15 of those past 17 years (she started this when she was two) I’d be her butler on her birthday. This year I will be a part-time butler as she will be in school most of the day. After all she is a princess, at least in my eyes. As the butler anything she wanted, Daddy was there to do and Mommy would just laugh at us. You see it was Momma’s job to keep both of her kids in line. She’s done pretty good with one and I’ll let you guess who she has a hard time with.
She is growing up too fast. Boys suddenly are awesome and then not so much as things don’t turn out as she had hoped. When she hurts, so do I. But there is always a silver lining.
Best of all she never causes me and her momma any grief. I believe that is because we gave her to God many years ago, and with us watching closely and God doing his thing all will be well. Two summers ago He gave her back to me, for a while longer.
That year I received another “best gift ever.” As many of you know she was bitten by a timber rattlesnake in our backyard. I held her and tried to keep her airway open as her face and neck swelled and her breathing became more and more shallow. For a while I thought I was losing my best gift ever. But God had other plans.
Thanks to a lot of prayers from this community, good medical care, fast action by emergency personnel and a God that cares, I got my Christmas for that year back in July.
Every year my wife asks, my friends ask and my family will ask – What do you want for Christmas? My answer is simple. I got one of the best gifts I could have received on Dec. 13, 1996. I got another one on July 28, 2011 and I got the one we all can receive some 17 years ago. I don’t need anything else. These are gifts that gave me a purpose, a life and a family of my own.
They are gifts I would never think about exchanging or complaining about (unlike some old sweaters I have received.) My daughter is the gift of a lifetime and she always will be. God’s love is a gift that will follow with me throughout this lifetime and into eternity
So remember, as you look for that perfect gift and ask yourself, what do I want people to give me, the answer may be closer than you think and you may already have it.
I know I could never get a better gift than my wife and God above has already given me. No way, no how.
Happy Birthday my little Princess. Happy Birthday Jesus. And thank you God again for another year with the perfect gifts.
I’m just saying . . .