Of Birthdays and Christmas Productions (*MGO)

*MGO stands for My Grief Observed. These are the posts I’m writing when I need to work through the loss of my daddy. They are not light and fluffy.

Many parents tell their kids they can be anything they want to be, but I’m not convinced that all of them believe it. My dad did.

My dad was a minister of music in a large church.  November and December were two of his busiest months because they were focused on the church Christmas production. For over twenty years, Dad thought of new Christmas program ideas. He could have opted to coast through his last few years until retirement, but every year he would do his best to make that year’s presentation better than the previous year’s.  From singing Christmas trees to a live nativity scene complete with camels to angels flying through the worship center, every Christmas program was special. People from all over the community would come every year to see what new and exciting things our church had planned. Dad knew that many people will come to a church Christmas program who may never come to any other service all year so he wanted to be sure that every year the message of Jesus and how He changes lives was always the central theme.

Some time in the late summer or early fall of 1999, Dad told me that he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do for Christmas that year. He shared a few ideas he had and we talked about what we liked and didn’t like about them. To make a point about one of his ideas, I told Dad about a story I had made up on my commute to work. As long as I can remember I’ve had stories in my head. They entertain me when I’m bored.  At the time I was working as a nurse in a hospital that was about a thirty-minute drive from my home. Since I’m a part of the generation who watched MTV when, first, MTV had music videos, and second, the videos actually had a story that had to do with the song, I’m prone to making music videos in my head to songs I hear on the radio. So I told my dad about the latest music video/story that was appearing in my head because I thought elements of it might actually work with some of the ideas he was proposing for the Christmas program.

Now you need to understand that my dad wasn’t chatty, nor was he a gusher. He communicated what he wanted to say without any excess frills or flourishes. Therefore, I wasn’t terribly surprised when he listened to my story and then said nary a word. Did he like it? Hate it? Who knew? Understandably, I was extremely surprised when a few weeks later, during a conversation with our pastor, Dad told him that I would be writing an original Christmas drama for our production that year! Again, who knew? Certainly not me! I had written short skits before but never a full-length drama and especially never one on such a large scale. I started writing because my dad needed me to  and he believed that I could…although I had serious doubts. How did I know he really believed I could do it? Well, he had no Plan B. He staked his very reputation on a play that I hadn’t even written yet.

Writing that Christmas drama was one of the most special experiences I’ve ever had. I had some of the sweetest, most memorable meetings with God as I wrote a story, ironically enough, about a girl who was grieving the loss of her mom at Christmastime. I have the honor of knowing one of the most creative men who has ever lived–my friend Bobby–and he built one of the most amazing sets that I’ve ever seen, complete with an indoor ice skating rink! Then he even agreed to play the part of one of the main characters! What an amazing experience to hear my words come out of other people’s mouths! It was an incredible opportunity for me and that Christmas will always be one of my favorites. I don’t think that drama would win a Tony, but God did allow that little play to be the vehicle He used to bring people to Him.

Over the next few years, my dad and I did several other productions together. Besides the first one we did, I think my other favorite would have to be the last one we did together the Christmas before I moved to Massachusetts. My dad had already announced that he would be leaving the music ministry the next year so I knew that this could be our last musical production to do together. I had no idea that we’d never have another opportunity because he’d no longer be here, but somehow I knew that this was a special time that would never be repeated. It was a very emotional time for me, not only because I desperately wanted to make my daddy proud, but because I wanted to make sure that I made my heavenly Dad proud, too. In some small way, I wanted my part in making the Christmas production to be my gift to them. Again, the drama itself was just a drama, but God blessed me by allowing me to see people enter into a relationship with Him after seeing the Christmas program.

I’ve been thinking about those Christmas productions a lot the last few weeks. ‘Tis the season for Christmas practices and performances. A week or so ago “Welcome to Our World” was on the radio. That song was a major part of that first Christmas production and I spent some time reminiscing about set designs and practices and staying up late to get scenes just so. Last night I sat in our church’s worship center and watched our choir and music department present an inspiring presentation of Christmas and the blessing of this season. It was a beautiful program, but I couldn’t help but miss my dad. My oldest son sang in the children’s choir and I wished so desperately that his Papa were there to see him. I admired the beautiful set with the backdrop of stars that my dad had always talked about using one of these performances, but we just never did. He would have loved it. And I would have loved to have had the opportunity to do just one more Christmas program with him.

Today’s my dad’s birthday. It’s a tough day that follows a difficult weekend of missing him so much that I sometimes feel I can’t even breathe. But today, even through the tears, I’m celebrating that I had a dad who thought I could do things I didn’t believe I could do. It’s one thing to say you believe in your child; it’s quite another to take a huge risk to prove it. Never in a million years would I have ever done anything like that on my own, and I would have missed out on some of the most incredible experiences of my life.

I miss you, Daddy. I hope they have red velvet cake in heaven.



Filed under My Grief Observed

24 responses to “Of Birthdays and Christmas Productions (*MGO)

  1. Michelle

    That was a beautiful story about your Dad. The stories you share and memories keep your Dad alive in all our hearts. The testimony of your Dad has been a tool that has changed so many lives. This may sound selfish, but please keep writing about your Dad I miss him so much.

  2. I can’t imagine what you’re going through, but your post has prompted me to call my daddy who also believes I can do anything. Thank you.

  3. If there was one thing that your dad talked about when he was going through the rigors of therapy, it was you and your great talent. There was serious fierceness in his voice when he told me about what a talented writer you are and he told me about the Christmas productions. He was such a picture of how our Father feels about us. Amazing stuff.
    Love to you, friend.

  4. I think this is my favorite post of yours ever. I’m with Michelle–please keep writing about your daddy. I never knew him, but I’d love to get to know him through your words.

    My daddy has always been proud of my writing too. Convincing his greasy, dirty work pals at the Honda Auto Plant that they need a book about Blushing Brides. 🙂

    Love you, friend! Praying for you!!

  5. What a beautiful post my friend. You’re still in my prayers! 🙂

  6. Oh, this was so precious! I feel like I know a part of your dad through you & love hearing how you worked together & how encouraging he was. It is such a great picture of how our Heavenly Father “believes” in us & comes alongside or goes before us. Your dad really did recognize your God-given skills enough to take the risk, giving you a great opportunity.I LOVE the picture of your dad & your son! Those are the memories to hang onto for a life time.
    (P.S. CPQ delivered my bag yesterday in SS & I love it!)
    Praying for you through this difficult time!

  7. carpoolqueen

    Been thinking about you today.

  8. What a beautiful, beautiful story. Your way with words honors your father and glorifies the Lord with such grace. Praying for you and understandable grief in this Christmastime.

  9. That was lovely. What a wonderful tribute to the special relationship you and your daddy have!
    Much love and hugs for you today.

  10. Sobbing, Amy. Because I miss my dad too. This time of year is just really, really hard.

    I prayed for you today.

  11. Amy, you got me. I was just gonna read before I head back over to school to teach my class…

    What a precious post. What a precious Dad. Aren’t you thankful for who he was in your life? It makes me think of all the kids with parents who care nothing for them. What a legacy you have. But I know you miss him.

  12. So incredibly beautiful.

  13. I’m so sorry this is hard. But you’re dad was a keen observer of truth: you are an incredible writer.

  14. Betty Boop

    I remembered your Dad’s birthday yesterday and Amy, you won’t believe this, but we had red velvet cake at CR last night! How ironic (sp?)…..and I remember being in those performances with him
    and I have never seen a Dad more proud of his little girl!!! He just beamed over you! How special your memories…..my Dad never believed in me, or encouraged me, so I love to hear your stories of Jerry. We all miss him.

  15. Betty Boop

    p.s. I love this picture of Blake and his Papa. They are two peas in a pod!!

  16. Joy R. Hanley

    The tears are flowing and I can’t stop them at this moment. I was only checking for a number of some coats from a local elementary school guidance counselor and…..there you were. It is so ironic that you wrote about the productions you wrote and help produce with your dad. I was just thinking about how I would love to have the material to share with Sam and possibly incorporate into our Living Christmas Tree next year. Wow! i can’t stop crying! Sometimes this just happens! I bottle it up for days and stay “sooooo” busy, and then, bam! A blubbering idiot. I will follow up with you later about this. Thanks for sharing your guts! I can only say that you all are in my prayers and I am hugging you right now HARD! I love you.
    We are headed out to a candle light service at the Garden of Memories where Matthew and Nanny are side by side. This is one of only two times each year that I go to the cemetery. I guess I just know that Matthew and Nanny are not there and it’s just so hard to be there knowing that. The memories of placing there bodies there just makes me miss them more. It’s just hard. No revelations in that statement. Sorry for the ramblings. I have collected myself for the moment so I am off to the service. Please tell Aunt Phyllis that I love her and, well, I love her!!

  17. Marie

    Precious isn’t a word that I use very much, but you and your daddy’s story is just that.

  18. Cindy Moses

    My Rugby would have loved my dad! His memory is so alive within me that sometimes I think he is still around. In a small way he is…he left his legacy in me…and I pass it on to mine. I realize that it’s not the same, and the table won’t seem complete, but it helps. 🙂

  19. Deena

    Sweet friend,
    You do have a gift for writing. I’m so glad that your Daddy recognized it in you. I know you miss him, and I know he is so proud of you!

  20. absolutely beautiful, precious moments that you were able to share with your Daddy…one of a bazillion reasons I wish I had one…I just knew we’d always do something like this together…for sure we’d be singing together…

    Love the picture.

  21. Thanks for welcoming me to the blogging world, but also for directing me to your site. I was honored to sing in choir for your wonderful Dad. In fact he had me as a featured soloist for the Christmas program my first two years with him. He was a treasure and I will always be thankful I knew him. Your story was beautiful and reminded me of how special he made Christmas for me — not because I was a soloist but because he believed in me like no one else and gave me a chance to step out to sing again after having gone through a tough time myself. I look forward to more of your posts.

  22. It is so sweet to read about your dad and the father he was to you. He really, really loved you in a hands-on, wonderful, Christ-like way.

  23. This post was beautiful, Whimz.

  24. No words to describe how beautiful and precious…

    Just continuing to pray.

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