23. The Christmas Letter

23. The Christmas Letter

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Merry Christmas!

The Christmas Letter

You don’t raise heroes, you raise sons. And if you treat them like sons, they’ll turn out to be heroes, even if it’s just in your own eyes.

~Walter M. Schirra, Sr.

What was that? I knew it wasn’t one of my secret surprises. My husband had just pulled a white envelope from his stocking on Christmas morning.

A Christmas letter from our son, secretly hidden in the stocking by our daughter, brought a wave of emotions. Our son had dropped out of college, didn’t really want to work, and kept thinking that life was going to be handed to him on a silver platter. For four years he had traveled a rough road. We supported him through all of it, lending a helping hand physically, spiritually, financially and emotionally. Still there seemed to be a great lack of appreciation.

Then our son joined the Marines and was deployed to Iraq for a seven-month tour of duty. On Christmas morning he called home to wish us a Merry Christmas. With a sad tone in his voice, he said, “I’m sitting by a lake, watching the sunset.” He was lonely, missing family and home. As we said goodbye and hung up the phone, my husband opened the white envelope and read the handwritten letter.

Dear Dad,

It has been long overdue, but I need to say thank you. When I was little, you always pushed me to be better, to be stronger, faster, and smarter. At that time, I didn’t understand, but I do now. I wouldn’t have become the man that I am today without you.

You taught me the value of hard work. You taught me to push myself farther than before. The work ethic that you instilled in me has been more beneficial than you would have thought.

Unfortunately, I’ve had to make my own mistakes to learn valuable lessons. You were always there to help me up whenever I fell. You have done so much for me that I could never repay you. I couldn’t ask for a better father. I only hope that I can be as good a father as you.

Thank you for everything that you do. I love you.

Neither of us could get through the words in the Christmas letter without tears running down our cheeks. For everything there is a season. One season can be filled with sunshine and blue skies. The next season can be filled with storms and black clouds. The storms shape us and test our faith. But at the end of it, our son became the man we always knew he could be.

~Sandra Diane Stout

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