Friday, December 7, 2012

My Favorite Christmas with Elaine Cantrell

The last Christmas my father was alive he baked a fruit cake to bring to my house for Christmas dinner. I know what you’re thinking: fruit cake. My father loved to bake. If you’d ever eaten his fruit cake you wouldn’t turn your nose up at it.

Anyway, he only brought half of the cake. He said, “I decided to freeze half of it for you to have next year. I don’t think I’ll be here.”

Everyone pooh poohed him even though he did have some health issues, but Daddy was right. He died in March of the following year.

As Christmas rolled around my stepmother said, “We still have the fruit cake that David baked. I’ll bring it.”
Those words struck terror into my heart. How could we eat the last thing my father baked? Once it was gone there would never be any more. The cherries and nuts that decorated the top had been placed there by his own hands in a pattern of his own design. It wasn’t right to eat it!

But on the other hand, how could we not enjoy it as he had wished us to do? Wasn’t that why he cut it in half the previous Christmas?

I went back and forth in my mind for several weeks, but the issue was decided a week before Christmas. The cemetery where my father is buried hosts a remembrance ceremony right before Christmas each year. They put candles in white paper bags on each grave, and after playing a carol and having a prayer, relatives of the dead light candles in remembrance of their loved ones.

My heart felt like a lump of ice in my chest as I joined my stepmother at the cemetery. This was the first Christmas without my father.  I had always been a Daddy’s girl so my father’s death, had cast a long shadow over my holiday. As we lighted the candle on my mother and father’s grave, my stepmother said, “It’s his first Christmas in Heaven.”

I thought about that for a long time. Wasn’t Dad’s Christmas far grander and more glorious that anything I could imagine? Wasn’t he singing with the angel choir as all of Heaven celebrated the birth of our Lord?
I looked at that candle, and for the first time since March I thought of something besides funerals and felt something other than loss. I felt grateful for having had such a wonderful parent.  Even though we’re parted for a while, one day we’ll meet again. When we do, I intend to tell him how much I enjoyed that last fruitcake.

Liesel Wolf has a secret, a dangerous secret she’ll go to any lengths to conceal.  When she’s paired in a charity game with sexy marshal Andy Bryce, a man with secrets of his own, her carefully constructed world comes crashing down, and Liesel’s on a collision course with her past.


  1. Beautiful and touching story, Elaine. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Yes, very poignant memory. Thanks, Elaine.

  3. You brought tears to my eyes, Elaine. I was close to both my parents but had my mom longer by 20 years, and her death in 2009 was (is still sometimes) very devastating. When I find things she touched, things she loved and unpack them, I find myself clutching to them, trying to feel the last of her earthly essence. But it is a comfort to know she's not in pain anymore and that she is with the Lord.

  4. Thanks to everyone. We've always had a personal ornament for every family member on our tree. Each Christmas it gives me great joy and a touch of sadness when I hang my dad's ornament. It always gets the place of honor.