December 22nd, 2003

The Premiere OnLine Magazine for the Fly Fishing Enthusiast.
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Christmas Presence

By Kerry Pitt, Canada

I am sitting in the living room, everyone else sleeping on various chairs and sofas, except of course daughter Kalila who wouldn't be caught dead sleeping where her parents could see her, she is sleeping in her room, her den, or she is sneaking in an episode of the 'Gilmore Girls,' you never know.

I am, or rather was, watching one of those sappy 'Hallmark Hall of Fame' Christmas specials, where everybody overcomes emotional obstacles and lives happily ever after, it was during this show that most of us fell asleep.

I am alone with my thoughts and I can hear their quiet breathing. I reach out and touch my wifes' hand, she smiles and tries to open her eyes, but fails, falling back into slumber, but still wearing the smile.

For me Christmas brings waves of nostalgia, they ebb and flow as the season progresses, often causing me to look outward at how other families are fairing in the task of living their lives, raising a family, dealing with challenges that just come with being alive.

Lately at our house, the big question is, "What do you want for Christmas?" Indeed an appropriate question for the season. My children have lists written on the backs of random papers and envelopes. Moriah has coached Matthias through the Sears Wishbook at least twice. Kalila is naming ridiculously priced items and giggling...but remains hopeful. I would give them any and everything if it was within my ability, they know this I think. For them Christmas is a great experience, they have seldom wanted for anything, but it is because they are the kind of people to whom I would give anything I was able to anyway, not because they are mine, because they are good people.

The question eventually and inevitably comes to me, "Dad, what do you want for Christmas?" I look at them, at my wife who always wonders what she should get me and then gets me something I really needed and never realized anyway.

I tell them, "Heck all I want is you guys, here with me!"

They all giggle and one or two of them hug me and then they say, "No really, what should we get?" I know it is important for them to feel like they are actually giving me something, so I give them some ideas, small inexpensive ideas, maybe a little more expensive ideas for my wife, Skye, because they know that parents buy and receive larger gifts as a rule, but truly, I need no more than I originally asked, just them here with me for Christmas, for each day after and before that season, it is all I really need. I find peace and comfort listening to their soft breathing as they sleep around me.

We drive long distances often, I tend to drive through the night if I have to, all of them fall asleep eventually, voices drifting off into the silence of slumber, leaving me with the car, silently covering miles. I am in awe at these times, of the trust they all put in me, to keep them safe, I want to rise to this responsibility to live up to their unacknowledged expectations, to be a better Father at that moment, than I was the moment before. To be a better Husband than I was a moment ago.

True enough, it is a superhuman task that I often feel incapable of, yet their trust in me, gives me the focus I need to keep trying, to not let them down, to give them a place and time to grow up in, which will help them reach their potential. Not just their career potential, but the potential they have to be good Human Beings. To give my wife the support she needs to become what she wants to become in her life, God knows she is one of the finest women I have ever met, even if at times, like me, she feels she is falling short somewhere, I know what she is capable of, few others do.

My brother Gordon and I were having a phone conversation one evening and we were discussing our kids and fishing, their various antics and catches, each of us in a good spirited way, hoping ours was the best "My kids" fishing story.

Gordon paused at some point and said, "You know Kerry, fishing may not be the best sport for everyone, but isn't it a great platform to meet your kids on? I had to agree. My best times as a child were fishing with my Dad. I want my children's best times to be fishing with Skye and myself. It is during these moments that we have their undivided attention, that we set the example and pass on messages both verbally and by our actions. It is these times and the memories they will provide, that I would take above any other gift they could give me.

I know that one day they will realize what I meant, when I said, "All of you here with me on Christmas Day, or any other day for that matter," I tell the truth and it gives me great comfort to watch them smile, to hear them giggle and to know that they are the legacy that Skye and I will leave behind, at least, the only one that will really matter. ~ Kerry


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