mychristmastree2013

Emphasizing The Merry This Christmas

Jose Vilson Jose 4 Comments

mychristmastree2013

The mantra for fathers like me is, “As long as they’re happy, we’re happy.”

Christmas time always has one dark cloud hanging over it with memories of my aunt who passed away almost twenty years ago, and now this year with my father passing away a couple of weeks ago. As a father, the stakes have changed. The inner turmoil I’ve felt has had to step to the side in favor of assuring happiness for my son, who’s now celebrating his second Christmas. His gifts get wrapped, the coquito (read: Latino eggnog) starts flowing, and the star atop our fresh pine tree.

That’s not how it worked, at least for a few hours.

Much of my sadness came from trying to be the best father / partner / friend / brother I can, and perhaps I hold too high a standard for myself, trying to do better than my father could for me and my seven other siblings from him. It can’t be boiled down to any one feeling or one moment, as I’ve had so many and so few with him at the same time. When I became a father, I had an idea how I wanted to father. I just didn’t understand what it would take to heal from the empty voids, and the potential that my father could impart some of his wisdom and charm is never more.

Shut up, Vilson. Get over yourself.

This is the moment when you need less words to say, more holding, shaking, and the compassion to know that it won’t be over, but it does actually get better. Until then, remember to love your loved ones, openly, furiously, and without the pride that might shield you otherwise.

Best,

Jose

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Comments 4

  1. nikki stevens

    As I get older, I am remembering what Christmas is really about– the birth of a children that would eventually die for my sins. I woke up this cold morning a little depressed because there is so much wrong going on in my life. Then I thought about two miracles God gave me. I also thought about Christ suffering and his death at an early age, I smiled and thank him for all of my blessings. I wish you happiness, and a blessed and Merry Christmas.

  2. Eric Clark

    Thanks for sharing this! I’m sorry for your loss, they always seem to make the holidays more difficult. This was the first Christmas I’ve not been overpowered by the darkness that occurred after my father’s death, and I had to tell myself to get over myself too, for my kids sake.

    You’ve validated my experience, and I wanted to thank you! Just know you’ve got another person in your corner if you ever need it.

  3. Laurel McHargue

    When it hit me that I had one less gift to mail this Christmas…my 89 1/2-year-old father died in October…my sorrow nearly stopped me in my tracks. Now, each night when I walk my dog and look to the expanse of the universe above me, I tell him that I love him, which is more than I did when he was alive. When I see a shooting star (which I do, frequently!) I know that he is listening.

    My condolences. I believe that when we are blessed with having our parents in our lives for a long time, it is that much more difficult when they are gone.

  4. John Norton

    I’ve been thinking about this all morning, after finding it in an email. Peeling back the layers here.

    “Compassion arises out of the unbounded nature of love.” That’s Ram Dass riffing on Neem Karoli Baba.

    In this context, compassion for our fathers, and the compassion we hope our children will have for us.

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