19: My Crazy Dad

19: My Crazy Dad

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Joy of Christmas

My Crazy Dad

I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.

~Umberto Eco

I thought my dad had lost his mind. Night after night he asked me to look at the angel on the top of our Christmas tree. She wore a little gold net skirt and she was pretty, but we had bought her a long time ago. She was old news.

“Isn’t she pretty, Donna?”

“Sure, Daddy, it’s the same angel we’ve had for years.”

I was an eighteen-year-old college freshman and I knew my dad was ancient, being in his mid-forties. He was definitely losing it.

There were still two weeks until Christmas, and he was pointing out the angel to me almost every day.

The Sunday before Christmas I found my dad sitting on the couch looking up at that angel again. He smiled at me and pointed toward the angel again. What in the world was going on with this man?

Finally, it was Christmas morning. Dad was still talking about our beautiful Christmas angel. We opened our gifts and then Daddy brought out the camera and a chair.

“Donna, come over and stand on this chair,” he said. “I want to take your picture next to the angel.” Now I knew he was out of his mind.

“Go ahead, Donna,” my mother whispered. Did I have to worry about her state of mind, too?

I stood on the chair and turned toward the cheap little angel made in China — obeying my “aging” parents.

And then I saw them — diamond studs inserted into the angel’s skirt. My dad had wanted me to find them early because he was so excited. I felt like such a brat to have doubted him.

I miss my dad. He’s been gone thirteen years now and one of the earrings has gone missing, too, but that warm feeling of being loved will never go away. I’ll never forget how cute he was that Christmas when he was so excited and proud to give me those diamond earrings.

~Donna Van Cleve Schleif

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