Two things I could not remember my dad ever doing when I was growing up: dancing or singing. At my wedding reception when the DJ said it was time for the father of the bride to dance with the bride he connected with me in the correct dance position and then said, "What do I do?"
"Just move your feet a little," I recall answering. The photographer got the picture and relieved, my dad gave up the pretense of dancing with me. I love the picture though. He looks so proud of himself actually "dancing."
Many years later, the first Christmas after my mother was gone, we planned our usual Christmas Eve get together at my brother's home. They were always patiently waiting on us each year because it was important to us that we go to the Christmas Eve service at our church. This year as always I extended the invitation to my family and surprisingly my father said he'd come.
I don't recall Dad ever going to a church service other than a funeral or a wedding. He grew up Catholic but had been disillusioned by the church years ago. He was always a very private man and except for only a small hint one time, he never expressed openly any kind of belief in God.
Our service started that Christmas evening with a series of familiar Christmas hymns. I stood next to Dad hoping he would feel comfortable, hoping he would find some comfort in the Christmas service. Mom had been Mrs. Christmas all our lives, planning, cooking, shopping and making Christmas traditions that now seemed threatened by her absence.
Suddenly I realized that the voice I was hearing strong and clear was coming from my Dad! I looked at him. My face must have registered my surprise. He looked down at me and smiled. "What? I know these songs." I smiled back at him and turned away quickly lest he see the tears that formed. My dad knew the Christmas carols!
I had no idea where he would have learned them. But within those hymns, those traditional Christmas carols, I knew that there was the message of hope, of peace, of the precious gift of Jesus. Perhaps he had known the message. Perhaps he had connected with his Savior after all.
We don't hear those carols as often as I'd like any more but all those years I sang them, they have left that same message in my heart. A connection to the heart of the Christmas message.