Today is December 19, 2016. It would have been my dad's 80th birthday. Needless to say, I wish he was here so I could celebrate it with him.
I have been thinking about him all week. I have even dreamed about him a couple of times. Even though he's been gone for 17 years I still miss him and think of him a lot.
There are many times in my life when I find myself traveling somewhere new or doing something for the first time that I'm really enjoying when I say to myself, "Dad would have loved this."
Walt Disney World, The Grand Ole Opry, Rymon Auditorium, The Smoky Mountains, Chicago, Washington DC are just a few places where this was true.
My dad didn't travel very much in his life. He never had the chance to know what it was like to fly. I have done both. I wish so much that I could share those experiences with him.
My mom was a bit of a home body. Dad was a lot more adventurous, relatively speaking. I remember him going on day long excursions and even from time to time being gone over night with friends or on a church trip. He would have been all in on going to all the places, I would liked to have had him with me.
His birthday being just 6 days before Christmas was, to me, rather appropriate. My dad loved Christmas. He was all about the cookies, the decorations, the music, being with family, and of course, the cookies.
Sure, he was never too thrilled about getting birthday presents wrapped in Christmas paper but he loved everything about Christmas. This included toy or model trains.
Now my dad loved model trains every day of the year. Model Railroading was not just his hobby; it was one of his passions.
When I was very young at Christmas time he would set up a platform with a railroad running in a circle around our tree. There were some plastic buildings and small miniature plastic people and fake snowflakes on it. The train circled our tree at the center of the platform.
I remember putting this up every year in the house I first lived. But we moved when I was 10 and he never did it after that. But he talked about it all every year. He was always trying to get my mom to go along with him doing again "next year."
Today, I finished a project that involved one of the things that, I know, would be at the top of my dad's "favorite things about Christmas" list.
I finished building and setting up a motorized Lego Christmas train.
I had been working on putting the train together all week. Because it was a motorized and I had never made anything like that before, I had some difficulty. It was serendipitous that I finished it today.
I got the train mostly to make my granddaughter happy. She loves Lego and trains. When I finally it set up, I decided that the trouble with putting it together was well worth it.
It wasn't until I was shooting the video of my accomplishment that I realized my dad would have loved it too.
After a busy day where I worked on and thought about a lot of different things, my mind quickly jumped back to my father and the fact that he would have turned 80 today.
So this 2016 Lego Christmas train will always be a kinetic tribute to my father and his love for Christmas, his family, and trains.
Of course, there are other things I really wish my dad was here to enjoy. I would have loved to have had him know my wife, my kids and his great grand children.
I could allow myself to think about the fact that he's not here for those things and get depressed. But as a Christian I have to hold onto the hope that one day when God's plans are complete, we will all be together in heaven.
And that hope brings me back to Christmas. A time my dad loved because not only did he enjoy it, he lived his life believing in it.
Happy 80th Birthday Dad. I love you. Can't wait to see you again.