Last Friday I was invited to Father's Day Dinner. Our friend's father died many years ago. A few years ago he and his brothers organised a dinner near the time of Father's Day. Each year more of their many siblings have become involved, and then a couple of father-less friends were invited along, and now other friends are welcomed too. The members of this family have a beautiful tradition that they share with whoever is at dinner. Each year one of them is tasked with writing a letter, which includes things they remember about or learned from their dad. That letter is hidden away until the next year when one of the others reads it out at the dinner. I am honoured to have been invited to this dinner. I am very sentimental at heart and love seeing this tradition that they have created. I'm not one for continuing old traditions just for the sake of it. I hope to see this one continue. It is both sentimental and practical, in a family where the younger kids have grown up mostly without their dad.
Last Christmas Eve my family went to church. It was a nice little friendly church and there was a fun show put on by children, teenagers and adults, mostly one extended family, and including Jesus played by a real baby. There was cake and ginger beer afterwards. The service didn't go too long, and there was no-one fainting at the back in the heat like the last time I went to midnight mass. All this was good, but the highlight for me was standing next to Dad and hearing him singing Christmas carols, loud and perfectly in tune.
Does this sound unusual? We grew up with Dad always insisting that he couldn't sing at all, and refusing to ever do so. He claimed he had no ear for music. But he always had a few significant records, and later CDs, that he loved to listen to. And now he sings too. He still doesn't believe he's tuneful, he just feels free to sing along in church. Next, we'd all like to convince him that he's actually good at it. (Although I like the idea that he has a place where he feels free to do it badly).
That night when we got home, we celebrated Dad's birthday. It's actually December 25th but we usually try to have a separate party. Dad admitted that he had already peeked at one of his presents. Granted, it had come in a postpack without any wrapping inside, but Mum had checked it first and warned him not to look. The previous night, he had finally succumbed to temptation. He told us about how when he was a little kid, he and his younger brother knew exactly where their parents kept the Christmas presents before they were wrapped. It was in the wardrobe in their parents' bedroom, where they probably never dreamed their well-behaved children would dare to go. Dad and his little brother were completely unable to resist, and would always check what they were getting. Then they always went to some effort to act surprised when they opened them on Christmas day.
The present that Dad peeked at last Christmas Eve was from his brother, and included a birthday card with a lovely compliment and encouragement about his writing. I know this meant a lot to Dad. More recently Dad has had to defer his studies, and his blog writing, to spend all his time doing much less fun and engaging stuff. So I was thrilled to hear that he has a preaching gig today in Sydney. Dad is really meant to be a speaker, preacher and teacher, and I can't wait til he can get back to making that happen on a more permanent basis.
I love you Dad. You really can sing. Happy Father's Day.