Just One

our family tree 2012

our family tree 2012

Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

We  went to the grocery store after gymastics practice Monday night, Izzy. It’s a sort of daddy-daughter routine of ours, no matter how mundane it may be. I usually have a short list given to me by Mommy. And you’re always hungry for a snack after practice.

We listen to music on the way from the gym to the store. I sing loud and catch glimpses of you in the backseat smiling.

“Have you told your teacher and friends that your dad is a professional singer yet?” I ask.

“Dad. You. Are. Not. A singer,” you say.

It’s kind of our routine. It makes you smile.

Sometimes we rush in and out of the store, grabbing only what we were sent for. Other times we wander down the quiet 8:30pm on a Monday aisles. I hold your hand, because I know it won’t always be this way. We talk about things at the grocery store some nights. Some nights it’s serious stuff. Other nights it’s things like “how many people are in the band A.L.O.?”

This Monday we wandered a little. Up and down the cool white aisles, the waxed floors reflecting the humming lights above, high shelves overburdened messages competing for our attention. The Christmas decorations not chosen, scattered, waiting to be discounted.

I picked up a basket full of seasonal flavored energy bars and an assortment of apples. You picked out candy. After a discussion about flavored organic milk we made our way to the checkout counter.

I led you by the hand to the self-checkout. I felt you tug, then let go and move away.

I turned around to find you staring at the Angel Tree, still covered with Salvation Army angels. Those families and kids facing a less fortunate Christmas than ours.

“Dad,” you said. You didn’t look my way, you just continued looking at the angels on the tree.

“Come on, Izzy,” I responded. “We need to get home baby. It’s getting late.”

“Dad,” you said again and grabbed my hand,  pulling me close beside you.

“It’s okay, baby. Someone will buy these. We can’t buy them all,” I said.

“Daaaad,” you said. “Just one.”


“Just one.”

“Just one,” I thought, as if I would ever consider more.

I stood for a moment staring at the $25 price tag. I thought about the hundreds of dollars of gifts mommy and I have tucked away for you kids for Christmas morning. My first thought was selfish. $25 is $25.

Then I wondered what it might be like for our family to be on that tree. How someone ends up there. And the pride and the pain the father must swallow for his children to have Christmas.

“Pick one, dad,” you said. “Just pick one.”

I love you,

– Daddy

Izzy, this song has always made me think of you. Don’t worry Max, Kate, and Karen….you have your own songs too:

TRAINING: starting to get “active ” again. Not formal training yet, but regular activity.

Saturday: Ran 6

Sunday: Bike 23 miles

Monday: Ran 3.5 miles

Tuesday: Swam 1000

Wednesday: Ran 4 miles