Christmas In Fresno: A Reflection


I have just returned from my annual Christmas trek to Fresno to be with my family for the holidays.  These days the Christmas holiday season is such a bittersweet time of the year for me.

I had great fun shopping for some toys for Cole and Hannah with my youngest son, Jeremy.  Even though the actual shopping was hectic, as I have written about. That event, “Santa” Christmas shopping for Cole and Hannah, put the Christmas spirit back into my soul!  It was re-invigorating, and I might add, it also was an opportunity to have some all important one-on-one time with Jeremy!

The most exciting part of Christmas was watching Cole and Hannah open up their respective Christmas gifts.  The sheer joy and exhilaration that came over each of their faces as they opened up all their gifts really gives this old grandfather joy! Additionally, getting gifts from Cold and Hannah that they made for me was very special!

The Christmas holiday also comes with food, lots of food.  After the grandkids opened up their gifts, Stephanie cooked a little breakfast to begin the Christmas day eating fest.  After the breakfast at Jeremy and Stephanie’s, I had to hightail it over to my sister’s house for a “brunch” with my Mom, sister, nieces and nephews.  It was also a time to deliver Mom’s Christmas gift for her to open.  The morning-time also provided some quality time visiting with, and celebrating Christmas with my mother, as well.

The early afternoon found me back on the road again to Jeremy’s house for their Christmas dinner.  Also there for dinner was Jason and his girlfriend, Jana.  As is mostly the case, Jason, in all his creativeness, made everyone a Christmas gift.  And as usual, he did not fully accomplish the task for everyone!  Surprise, surprise, it was just Jason being Jason!!  Notwithstanding that fact, I always look forward to what his creativeness produced!

I was privy to know what he was creating for Cole and Hannah.  He and Jana were trying their hand at tie-dying.  Now for those who are familiar with Jason, know that tie-dye t-shirts and Jason are one and the same.  Hmmmmm, that’s kind of like me and NASCAR/sprint car t-shirts!!!  But I digress.  The finished product, the tie-dye t-shirts, were really cool looking for their first attempt at that process!  This could turn into a financial thing for them in the future!

Now I digress once again, but I must do so to explain the gift I received from Jason.  Last year Jason wanted a painting set for Christmas.  So I agreed to purchase this for his Christmas gift with one caveat.  I requested that he paint something for me.  Well, that is what I received from him for Christmas this year.  Not bad, it only took twelve months for my request to be honored!!!

Nevertheless, I am now the very proud owner of a Jason Hammack original abstract!!

This part of the Christmas holidays, the family gatherings, the grandchildren opening their presents, the excitement in their eyes as the unwrap those gifts, is the bright spot and the joyous part that thoroughly thrills my being.  The older I get, the more that I realize that it is truly better to give than to receive.  Additionally, the feeling of giving someone something that they really need or want is really heart-warming!

Therein lies my reasoning for the “sweet” part of “the bitter-sweet” feelings that I have surrounding the Christmas holidays.

The other feeling that I have associated with this holiday, that “bitter” part of the previously mentioned bittersweet feelings, stems from an incident that occurred on December 30, 1995.  At approximately 10pm on December 30, 1995, I lost  my best friend, and my hero!  That evening my father passed away, leaving a legacy of honesty, humility, and honor.  As the youngest of five children, those are very big shoes to try to fill!  I am finding that, after 16 years and with all of my efforts, I am hard-pressed to succeed in filling those shoes!

I miss you, Pop!

Therein lies my reasons for viewing the Christmas holidays with a bittersweet tone!

May all your New Year wishes come true!