Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Power of Christmas Stories

My parents in 1994.
There are a lot of made-for-TV movies out there and I wonder where the writers get their ideas from. For sure, the stories fall into a few of categories, like a man and woman hating Christmas so they make a pact to spend the holidays together or a boss hates Christmas so someone like Santa or the Spirit of Christmas comes along to give him or her a change of heart.
Most movies involve two people falling in love. 
I suppose like all stories, an idea comes from something simple, from the writers' own lives, a little bit of inspiration that can be worked into a movie plot.

It could be an idea as simple as this one that I wrote about on my Facebook page in 2013, four years after my father's death. I thought of it the other day because the week before Christmas reminds of my father and his penchant for red-and-green. I'm sure the seeds of a Christmas story are here:

"It wasn't until the day after my father had died and I was going through the family photo albums selecting pictures for the video display that I noticed the pattern: Dad wore red and green at Christmas.
There I was, 39 years old and my father gone 24 hours and I'd just learned something new about him.
It was never obvious, this Christmas dress code of his. He wasn't the Santa hat type of guy or a Christmas tie type but going through years and years of photos all at once made me see that he would wear a green sweater over a red shirt at Christmastime. Then there was the memorable photo that couldn't be included in the video: my sister snapped him as he walked through the kitchen wearing nothing but a pair of white boxer shorts and red socks. We laughed about that...but failed to see the pattern and the deeper meaning.
Learning that Christmas was special to my quiet, generous father is a joyful memory. How many people get the chance to discover something wonderful like this about a parent they have just lost...and have it make Christmas more meaningful, more joy-filled despite the loss? It doesn't make me feel sad; it makes me feel lucky.
To discover how my father really felt about Christmas is a gift he gave me for the rest of MY life. Merry Christmas, Dad. And, as always, thanks."

As true now as it was when I wrote it three years ago. I wish I'd paid closer attention to my father, I wish I'd appreciated him more while he was alive. Memories are a poor substitute for the real thing but I'm grateful at least to have this very special memory.

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