The One True Christmas Gift
December 24, 2014
“Welcome to Adult Life” is my glib saying whenever my daughter bemoans her situation. She works in IT. 50-60 hours a week. All hours of the day and night. A downed server 2,000 miles away means a myriad of progressively escalating phone calls and corrective actions often in the middle of the night. Often in really bad weather. In fact, the worse the weather, the more incidents she must manage. She’s tired. Really tired. She’s over worked. She’s under paid.
“Welcome to Adult Life”. I say.
She rolls her eyes so far back in her head, I’m pretty sure she can see her own brain.
I always follow with a Daddly bear hug, and then produce some old chestnut dug from deep in a pocket that belonged to my father, and his father, and his father’s father.
“The price of success, is hard work.”
“Hard work reveals you have character.”
And… the one I never got tired of :
“Hard work without ability is a shame, but ability without hard work is a tragedy.”
She smiles. She gets its. Deep inside she knows I care, but she also knows that one of my prime Dad jobs is to keep her prepared for some of life’s hard eventualities. Part of her understands it’s in her best interest to keep that instinct in tact.
Sometimes it’s a few days between the times she calls or texts. Sometimes a bit longer. I watch her struggle to manage all of the responsibilities of Adult Life. Her school. Her money. Her relationships. Her Life. Through it all there is always a strong parental reflex at work. Like those old Three Stooges bits, when the doctor would bonk Moe’s knee with a little hammer, and he’d reflexively let go a mighty mule kick. When I see her struggle, my reflex is to help. Sometimes it’s a fight to keep from intervening. Sometimes she reaches out herself. It all seems to work out in the end.
She called this morning, to say she’d be here for Christmas.
Somehow, she’s managed to carve out a few hours. I know how hard this was for her to achieve. She’s worked all night for the last few nights. She’s exhausted. She has a boyfriend. And a life she hasn’t seen in a couple of weeks. She also has a responsibility to be fair and carve out time for her mom’s side of the family as well. Every hour she gives to me, is an hour she owes to the other side, or she’ll be seen as playing favorites. Something she will not do. There’s that character thing again.
She comes. She eats. She socializes.
She wanders over to me, when an opportunity to speak to me alone presents itself.
“I’m sorry Dad.” she says sadly.
“For what, kid?” I say, genuinely concerned.
“With the car, and school and all the expenses, I didn’t have a lot left over for presents this year.” I can tell she’s very upset.
“Understand this, Little Mouse.” I say. “You’ve already given me the very best present I could have hoped for.”
“What’s that?” she says.
“You. Present in my life. Here. Today.”
She hugs me.
“I love you, Dad.”
And of all the gifts under all the trees, that – is the gift I treasure most.
Merry Christmas, All.