Father Christmas

One of the most difficult experiences for us is when someone we dearly love dies – and yet we do not know if they ever came through to a saving knowledge of Jesus.

This was my own experience when my father died. Wartime experiences (which he never spoke about) had left him quietly averse to church; though I detected some sign of change in his final years. Yet he was suddenly taken ill when we were living far away in Shetland; and the first news we had was that he was already dead.

At such times, the best thing we can do is to hold on to our knowledge of Jesus, as the Judge of all mankind who was willing to go to the cross rather than let us die in our sins; and to God the Father, who even to the very last will wait to welcome the prodigal home. I have seen people come to Jesus in the final hours of their lives, as did one of the thieves who was crucified with him (Lk 23:39-43).

As I was travelling to my mother’s on the train I wrote this tribute for the funeral. It is based on an actual incident when my sister and I were very young. If you are grieving for a loved one in such circumstances, I hope it will be a help to you. If not, I hope you will simply enjoy and maybe learn something from it.

(Back to ‘Loaves and Fishes.’)

In Memory of Dad

The lights were dim when he came in
– But still, I should have known
That red-coated Father Christmas
Was the one who made our home.

We were gathered round the Christmas tree,
My sister, mum and I,
When a knock had come upon the door
– A stranger passing by?

“Come in, come in,” my mother said.
“Children, what have we here?
It’s Father Christmas, come to see us.
And bringing Christmas cheer.”

Were we excited? Boy! You bet!
And gathered round with glee.
He looked so awesome, in that red robe,
By the light of the Christmas tree.

He asked us questions.
What would we like, the best, in all the world?
And eagerly we snuggled close
And all our plans unfurled.

But looking back now, through the years,
There’s this that makes me sad;
In my excitement, I never asked,
“Here’s Mum – but where is Dad?”

He was like that, you see, my dad.
He’d never make a fuss.
But always, quietly, he’d provide
For the needs of mum, and us.

The skills I learned by watching him:
To draw, to think, to make.
And there were things I didn’t see
– To work, for other’s sake.

I saw him tired many a night,
And sitting in his chair;
And wondered why, when plates were washed,
My dad was sleeping there.

The lights were dim when he came in
– But still, I should have known
That red-coated Father Christmas
Was the one who made our home.

“I must be going now,” he said.
“Oh, Santa, can we come
And see you off? To see your sled
And reindeer would be fun!”

“I’m sorry, kids, but that can’t be.
I left them down the street,
A long way off, and then came here
On Santa’s poor old feet.”

“But Santa, never mind,” we said.
“We’ll come and wave goodbye.”
“Well, I suppose that that’s all right.”
Said ‘Santa,’ with a sigh.

The night was cold, the road was long
And Santa’s coat was thin.
It was his dressing gown, you see;
Edged round with cotton-wool trim.

We went as far as the next street,
Then, oblivious of his plight,
We stood and watched, and waved, and waved
– Till he was out of sight.

Yet, still unknown, he played his part;
And, shivering, saw it through.
And on returning, so I’m told,
‘Red Santa’ had turned blue!

The lights were dim when he came in
– But still, I should have known
That red-coated Father Christmas
Was the one who made our home.

And still I think about that night,
As I watched him walk away;
Not really knowing who it was
Who’d been with me that day.

For another Father I have known
– Father to Dad and me –
Who gave his own begotten Son
To die upon a tree.

I did not know Him at that time;
Nor yet, it seems, did Dad
– He had too many questions, ‘Why?’
So much he’d seen was bad.

Yet, though unknown, God loves us still;
Just as my Dad loved me.
And patiently he leads us on
And teaches us to see.

We could not hope to earn His love
Or repay what is past:
Yet still His love is reaching out
Until the very last.

I know that Dad wanted to know
The truth of what I’ve told.
And that is why I still have hope
As I wave him down the road…..

Kevin King, 20/11/95

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