My greatest gifts this year - what I'm taking away from this festive season - are the hand-made and written cards containing personal messages from my not-so-young children. They're both arriving at adulthood, and they are learning some very important skills which I hope they will carry into the rest of their lives. They've sent me messages from the heart before because they know that I value shared thoughts over things, and I have sent them many such messages throughout their lives. In the last few years they have begun to respond in kind but this year, the quality of their words was quite a revelation.
Where would we be without words? I have always known that my kids love me, even if at times (just about every day) I have doubted my worthiness of that love. I have loved them ferociously, with a passion separate from every other emotion I have ever known, and I will always do so - I have no choice in the matter: it's an elemental part of who I am. With words I have always striven to make them fully aware of the depth of my feeling for them, and I have done so believing that they may never feel quite the same way - or at least be able to express their feelings - about their big, grumpy, forgetful, stubborn and prone-to-farting father. Yesterday, that changed.
Their words - so difficult for people of their age to use face to face - reached out to me from the page, embraced me and never let go.
I'm still wrapped in those words today - this morning I awoke cradled by them, and they are there in my mind, right at the front, smiling at me lovingly. It feels wonderful.
This Christmas was indeed a little different, but not in the way I was worrying about. I learned something about my world which brings me some peace. It seems that, despite all my fears (so many fears) to the contrary, I may just be doing a good job of being 'dad' to my kids...
I can't think of a more fulfilling discovery - and inside, my smile couldn't be wider.
My tears? They are tears are of joy.