Robin's Christmas Tradition

This year, on November 2nd, my father, Jack Smith, passed away. I had the privilege of spending the last 2 1/2 weeks of his life with him every day, with exception of one. I rubbed his feet, gave him sips of water and just generally sat and held his hand and did whatever it was he wanted done. He had cancer and from the time of his diagnosis to his death, only one month passed. It was quick and painless, just the way he wanted it.


Needless to say, I miss my dad. It's Christmas time and he's not here, but I am grateful for all the Christmases I got to have with him. He always wanted to include his elderly mother and his brother, whom had never been married, as well as pretty much anybody else he heard about that did not have a place to go for Christmas. My father was very selfless and giving.

My job at Thrifty Fun is submit recipes, of which I literally have thousands. While most of my cooking techniques were handed down to me from my mother, my dad also played a part, but usually only at holidays. His big specialty was ham. He always bought and baked a large, bone-in ham. Never have I tasted ham any more delicious than when my dad made it! I don't really know of anything special he did. I just know that ham tasted better than anything!


Christmas at our house while I was growing up was always a big deal. Many gifts were exchanged and there was much time spent with family, which really meant a lot more than the gifts that were given. My mother used to make candy galore and I helped her quite a bit. She was, and still is, a talented lady, though Parkinson's disease has made it difficult for her to cook much due to the severe shaking of her hands.

As time marched on, my husband and I moved 4 1/2 hours away from our family and we have not been able to spend the time there with them on the holidays as much as we have wanted to, but we have come to begin some of our own traditions. For example, every Christmas morning, my husband will gather us all around and read the Christmas story from the Bible of how Jesus was born. He can never keep a dry eye when reading this to all of us. We did this the whole time our daughters were small and we continue to do it every year and, hopefully, always will. We then pass out the gifts and take turns each opening a gift until all are opened. Then we have a large meal together, play games or just watch a good movie and snack on Christmas goodies and relax for the rest of the day. It's nothing fancy, but it's special to us because we are together. There have also been several times over the 20 years we have lived here that friends, who knew we were not able to spend Christmas with our extended family, have opened their homes and invited us to spend Christmas with them. Those times are just as special, as many of them have become like family to us.


I guess the reason I wanted to write this is because, especially now that my dad is no longer with us, I feel so impressed that family time together is so important. My dad always wanted his kids, and especially his grandkids, to be around him. How I wish I would have been able to make that drive more often to spend time with him. This Christmas will be lonely because I know he is not with us. There will be no phone call to wish us all a Merry Christmas from 'grandpa' this year. However, we will march on and enjoy the holiday together because that is exactly the way he would want it! There is also peace in knowing he will be spending his first Christmas in Heaven!

I know this little piece isn't about food, but I felt the need just to remind all of us, myself included, of just how important our families are and how important time spent together is. This Christmas, be thankful for your family and friends and try to remember just how blessed we really are. And if you know of someone who has no place to go this year, please consider including them in your plans. Reach out to someone who needs you to care for them.

May all of you Thrifty Fun readers have the Merriest Christmas ever!

Editor's Note: Thank you, Robin, for such an eloquent Christmas message. We are all so sorry for your family's loss, your dad sounded like a wonderful man.

ThriftyFun would like to wish all our readers a very Merry Christmas and New Year.

December 23, 20090 found this helpful

Merry Christmas Robin,

It may sound cliche but your father is with you as long as you remember him and hold your memories of him close.

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December 24, 20090 found this helpful

Sounds like you have wonderful memories of your father and hope you will always hold them near and dear. I lost my father almost 10 years ago and still miss him. Thanks for reminding us all how important our faith and our family and friends are to us.

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December 24, 20090 found this helpful

God Bless you for sharing your story and reminding everyone what this season is truly about, Robin!

I lost my daddy 21 years ago and still miss him sorely but you know what's cool? I feel him with me every day and especially every Holy Day and you'll feel your daddy too at the most unexpected moments :-)

Blessed Christmas wishes for you and your family!

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December 24, 20090 found this helpful

Hi Robin.

I am so sorry for your loss and the road you face with your mom's illness. I pray you have an abundance of strength for now and the coming months and years. I love your recipes and I always know out of every newsletter I will keep at least one of yours. I have even told my family if I ever get to Iowa I might sit on your door step because that has to be the place with the best food ever! Your mom taught you well.

May God bless each person in your family.

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December 24, 20090 found this helpful

Robin, My condolences on the loss of your father, I lost my mom at this time of year 12 years ago and I still find myself grieving at odd times. I also learned a couple of weeks ago that my biological father is dying of cancer (a tumour in the brain as well as lung cancer), so this is rather a sad time of year for me as well.

I enjoy your recipes although there is only me (and three very spoiled cats and two spiders to feed) so I rarely make anything but I still enjoy reading them.

Have a good Christmas and a joyous New Year

Hugs and purrs,

cinnamon, louie, cinnamon (orange cat), tigger, angel and ms rosie (who are spiders!)

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December 25, 20090 found this helpful

Robin. I am sorry for your loss. I can relate with you my Mom went in the hospital with a belly ache & passed away 4 weeks later. all of the 6 kids were right by her side. You touched my heart & I did shed a few tears. Your Dad sounds like he was pretty great. We are lucky we have such fond memories from the past. Family is most important, I just wish others would catch on the world would be a brighter place.

In RI where I live we have a park that you adopt a tree. It has a beautiful xmas village, we have one for my Mom & Nephew & go each year & decorate it is a nice memorial the park has 100 's of decorated trees til the new year, its a great way to remember how much they loved xmas.

I hope your family has a great day today. & may we all count are blessing not our presents.


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December 25, 20090 found this helpful

Robin, thank you so much for sharing your story. It actually brought tears to my eyes. Both my parents have been gone for a long time but Christmas was my Mom's most favourite time of year and even after the almost 40 years she's been gone, each Christmas I buy a new ornament for our tree. I know the kind she would have picked...and when I am no longer here my children will carry on the tradition. They unfortunately never got to know their Grandmother because she passed away at the young age of 48 and my son was just 2 and my daughter not yet born but on her way.

On the other hand, my dear Father was crazy about fishing and I must have inherited from him but at the start of every fishing season, when I throw my line in for the first time, I say, this one's for you Pop.. Bring me in a big one, LOL. Robin, thank you for letting me have this walk down Memory Lane. It's just such a nice place to visit.

And BTW, I have tried many of your recipes, and I look forward daily to them.

On another note, I don't recall now how I found this site but boy I sure am glad I did. I love it!

Belated Merry Christmas and wishing you all the very best for 2010.

Syl in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

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December 26, 20090 found this helpful

Christmas Eve,we rode by a cemetery in which an older lady wearing a red sweatshirt and Santa hat was bent over arranging what looked like several sets of flowers, or a really large one. I remarked how sad it was that she was all alone in a cemetery on Christmas.

Then later that evening after dark, we passed the same cemetery again, and where the lady had been, was a small Christmas tree all lit up with what must have been battery operated lights. I still cry, just thinking about it.

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December 26, 20090 found this helpful

My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this time of loss. Thank you for a wonderful composition to read that you gave all of us! Take care, Pat

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December 30, 20090 found this helpful

Robin I am so sorry for your loss. May your belief in God help you and your family to know that your loved one is now safely in God's arms. Your dad will always be a part of you and your light will reflect his love for you. May God Bless you and your family at this difficult time.

I love your recipes and look for them on all the emails. Thank-you for sharing a part of yourself with all of us, so that maybe we will start a tradition of our own with one of your recipes.

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December 30, 20090 found this helpful

Robin, I am sorry to hear about your loss, but I wanted to thank you so very much for sharing your story...

My father died suddenly or a heart attack after being in great health at the young age of 43 (back in 1981). He died several weeks after Christmas & my grandfather died one month later. (So my mother lost both her husband & her father all in one month) & ever since then, I have had the motto that you just never know when you, or a family member's time will come & they won't be with us any more.

So with that in mine, we all need to keep in touch with our loved ones & see them whenever we can & if we ever have a disagreement with a loved one or family member to "never let the sun go down on our anger" & to never hold grudges or let little things get to you. My mother is now 75 & I know that the time I have to spend with her is limited, so I call & talk to her nearly every day. Lets all keep in touch with our family members & see & call them whenever we can.

FamilyTraditions are so very important. It doesn't matter what they are, as long as you have something to pass down to your kids that they can pass on to their kids. In our house I always made hot-spiced cider to drink when we decorated the tree each year & to drink on Christmas morning, and to this day, whenever my kids smell spiced cider it reminds them happy times.

Your Family Traditions don't need to be fancy, a "tradition" is simply something you repeat each year... It can be something you eat, drink or something you do... Some families play card or games together on Christmas Eve, some go to midnight mass, some watch a movie & eat chowder & bread sticks, some order a pizza. It doesn't matter WHAT the tradition is, as long as you repeat it each year. Your kids will cherish the tradition & pass it on to future generations.

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January 6, 20100 found this helpful

Thank you so much for sharing your heartfelt and touching story. Yes, family is the most important treasure and blessing.

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January 9, 20100 found this helpful

Bless you Robin. I know the feelings your having. Lost my Dad and Mom. It changes things, but we go on.

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