Boxing Day for me is always tinged with a little bit of sadness. This year it has been five years since the last time I saw my dad. I remember hugging him goodbye and teasing him about losing weight in the New Year – just over six weeks later he suffered a fatal heart attack.
But every day I thank God for my other ‘Dad’ – my father-in-law. Together, they made a formidable pair – always there to help in a crisis; always there to have fun at a celebration.
In the 25 years I’ve known my father-in-law, he’s always been loved and recognised for his own individual contribution to the Family’s lives. I remember hugging him, this time at my dad’s funeral and sobbing “…at least I still have you.”
His contributions are endless. He designs, makes, mends, grows and initiates ‘things’: handmade toys for the Children; surprises for his loved ones and friends; vegetables and fruit for the table. He shares his scientific and electrical knowledge, whether helping re-wire a house or teach Daughter of Mine about circuits; and creates legendary games, puzzles and quizzes for Christmas night.
Even this Boxing Day night, he left our house armed with a multitude of things he had offered to mend: a spring catch on a secret treasure chest he had made for Son of Mine’s birthday this year; the flag pole on the wooden castle he had made for his fourth birthday (joking that it was now out of guarantee); and the attachments for my Kenwood Chef, to loosen the adjustment nuts (because Husband of Mine doesn’t have a vice). He also left with another wood project to design and make – a series of display boxes for Son of Mine’s collection of gemstones and fossils.
It was also my father-in-law who introduced me to the Lake District and Keswick, back in 1991 when newly married Husband of Mine and I, desperate for a cheap holiday, jumped at the chance to act as support team while my new in-laws walked Wainwright’s famous Coast to Coast walk. We camped, in the rain, near Bassenthwaite Lake then moved our tent to Kirkby Stephen for a few days of glorious sunshine – leaving me in love with Cumbria, but alas, not with camping!
This year we bought him a ukulele for Christmas.
“To ‘Davey’…Merry Christmas…” read the tag, so written because he can play ‘Davey Crockett’ on any instrument you care to mention. He may even get to ‘guest’ with Husband of Mine’s folk band – ‘The Renegade Dogs’!
So with a bit more practice, maybe next Boxing Day’s ‘blues’ won’t be so bad…