My Dad is with me each Christmas through his Benny’s “Christmas Angel”~
There are two things about my Dad that I’ll always remember and cherish – he loved Christmas and he fixed things. It just so happens that these two wonderful characteristics are combined into one lovely Christmas Angel for me to love and cherish each Christmas as I remember my Dad.
My Dad loved decorating our home for Christmas. He loved picking out the perfect Christmas tree. He loved strand upon tangled strand of colorful Christmas lights (this was the 1950′s, 60′s and 70′s, folks, when colorful lights were just about all we had, except for the years of our aluminum tree and the famous color wheel!). My Dad loved tinsel and ornaments and double-triple-quadruple window candles and outside large, red plastic candles and the like.
And he loved finding treasures that he could fix.
Back in, oh, 1964, 1965 or so, my Dad took one of his famous Saturday afternoon trips a couple of miles up the road to the center of East Greenwich, RI… to our local Benny’s, his favorite store. Because I was his only daughter and sole Christmas decorating companion, I was given some task or other with piles of Christmas stuff that had to be sorted while he headed to Benny’s to pick up lights or electrical cords or something or other. I was 12 or 13 years old, and there was nothing I loved more than decorating for Christmas with my Dad.
Dad came back from Benny’s that day with a tattered box that he gingerly placed on our kitchen table. I can still see his face and feel the happiness in his heart. In the box was a lovely Angel Christmas Tree topper in a white gossamer-looking dress and white wings. Little sparkles of gold on her dress and wings caught the light and made her glisten. Her body and her hands were supposed to light up with little white lights – but they didn’t.
Her beautiful little face was mischievous enough to have caught Dad’s attention.
Of course, Dad rescued her. She was waiting for him on a little clearance table of things at Benny’s that didn’t work.
Dad went about his genius with anything electrical, tinkering and thinking and singing and tinkering some more. Soon enough, he brought the Angel to show me… and from the first time I saw her lit up, I was mesmerized. She was Christmas lovely. She was all happiness and light in the hands of my smiling Dad.
We put her on top of our Christmas tree that year. That little Angel would be our family Christmas tree topper for many years to come. Christmas wasn’t Christmas until that Angel sat on top of our tree. I remember coming home from college and then coming to visit from my apartment in Providence at Christmastime… always waiting to see that special little Angel with her beautiful dress and wings and mischievous smile!
My Dad passed away in 1975 after suffering a heart attack. That time is still a blur to me, the suddenness of my Dad leaving this earth. I do remember, though, looking for his beautiful little Christmas Angel that first Christmas without him. I placed her on top of my Mom’s Christmas tree and felt my Dad and saw his smile.
My Mom sold her home and moved during that next year, and during the sorting and cleaning, she gave me the Christmas Angel. She knew what the Angel meant to me. The needed-fixin’ little Angel from Benny’s is one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received; and each Christmas since, I’ve put her on top of every Christmas tree I’ve had – as a single working girl in apartment after apartment, a newlywed, a Mom, an empty-nester, a Grandma.
I’m now a Grandma of 10, soon-to-be 11 precious grandchildren and I love to tell them the story of My Dad and the Christmas Angel. It isn’t Christmas until the Angel is sitting on top of our Christmas tree…
It’s my Dad’s way of still decorating for Christmas and fixing things for me ~ like my heart.
This Christmas 2013, The Christmas Angel sits at the very top our vintage Aluminum Christmas Tree, one just like I had as a kid!
I know she likes it up there where she radiates all the memories, all the love, all the joy and warmth of the Christmas Season…
Just as my Dad wanted her to!