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A Christmas Story

A Christmas Story

It has been several years since my Dad’s passing but there is one Christmas gift he gave that I remember more than any other.  Years later I still feel enormously grateful for the gift he gave me that never faded, never worn out and never failed to be a gift that sustained me throughout my life. I hope all parents will remember the meaning of this story as you contemplate what to give your children this season.

When I was 9 years old I asked for a Lionel train for Christmas. I wanted that train so much that I couldn’t think of anything else. I dreamed about it day and night, imagining what it would look like speeding along its miniature track. Nobody else in my neighborhood had a Lionel. I would be the first to own one, and that I believed would make me special.

On Christmas morning I woke up when it was still dark and tiptoed past my sleeping brother. The stairs creaked in our apartment so I stayed on the edges, hoping to keep the magic moment to myself. A light was on in the kitchen and I peeked in to see my father sitting at the table, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. He looked up at me, something shifted in my heart and I knew there would be no train under the tree.

Without a word I ran into the living room and stood before the Christmas tree. Blinking back tears and still believing in miracles I hoped the train would just suddenly appear before me. Maybe I missed it, I thought, picking up boxes and shaking them. Maybe it’s in a closet or maybe it’s outside on the porch.

“Arthur.”  My Father’s voice was gentle as he kneeled down next to me. “We could not afford the train. I’m sorry, because I know how much it meant to you.”

He put his hand around my wrist and squeezed, a gesture he used only when he was discussing issues of the utmost importance. “You may not understand what I am about to say now, but someday you will” he said. “On this Christmas morning, with just you and me in this room, I would like to give you a gift far greater than anything money can buy. I want you to know that I will always love you. No matter what happens in your life, I will always be with you, believing in you,supporting you,cheering for you. No father could ever love a son more than I love you, and that love will never rust or need repairs-it will always be yours, now and for the rest of your life.”

I must have given him a look of doubt and perhaps confusion-How can love make up for a Lionel?-for he squeezed my wrist tighter and leaned toward me. I breathed in the familiar, bittersweet odor of Chesterfields and Maxwell House coffee, mixed with plenty of sugar and cream. “Believe me  Arthur,” my father said, “this will come to mean more than any other gift I could give you, I promise you that.”

This Christmas, many years later, it is still the best gift I could have ever received. His love, even after he is gone, lives inside me in a very powerful way. Try to give the gift of eternal love this season, it is truly everlasting.

What is your favorite Christmas Memory? Please share it via comments below.

Connect with me on Twitter @DocAPC

Arthur P. Ciaramicoli, Ed.D.,Ph.D.

Author of The Stress Solution: Using Empathy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Reduce Anxiety and Develop Resilience


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  2. A Christmas Story #yourstory #changeyourstory #holidaymemories

  3. First of all, I’m sitting here crying tears of empathy, because I so deeply resonate with your story. I lost my Dad to cancer in ’07, and my fondest Christmas memories have to do with him, my family, and my childhood home. It was a Queen Anne Victorian home, and decorating it with my family and then basking in the warmth from the fireplace is etched forever on my heart. The singular memory that this season evokes in me is this:

    My son, my son’s father and I ring the doorbell on Christmas eve afternoon…my father, the most wonderful ham you can imagine, would hit “play” on the stereo and crank up our favorite holiday music, and then he would slowly open the giant oak door to my parents’ home (complete with brass lion’s head door knocker!), and just stand there, dramatically, with arms open wide, smiling, welcoming. He radiated love and joy. I miss him, and that yearly moment, more than words can express.

  4. DocAPC says:

    Dear Mariana:

    Thank you very much for writing and sharing with me your most precious memory. I can only imagine how heartwarming those moments were and how very much you must miss your father. He sounds like a man full of warmth and contagious love. I hope this Christmas you feel his presence once again. Your story will remain with me through the season.

    My Best,


  5. Happy Holidays Everyone! A Christmas Story for you