Merry Christmas in Heaven, Dad-o

RedState author Stacey Matthews' (Sister Toldjah) father Jack Matthews. (Credit: The Matthews family)

Dear dad-o,

I knew that between the two big holidays of the year that Christmas would be the hardest for me.

Though memories of family traditions you’d created for Thanksgiving over the years, like making your world-famous giblet gravy or sitting outside in the cold and bundled up while deep frying 10 lb. turkeys for your daughters, came to mind in November, it has been the December memories of Christmas seasons gone by that have had me reaching for the Kleenex tissues from time to time.


A few weeks after the Lord called you home in June, mom and I talked about how hard it was in many ways to move on from losing you. But we told each other that once we made it through all the “firsts” – the first Thanksgiving and Christmas, the first birthday, the first anniversary of having to say goodbye – it would be “easier” to settle into those “new normals” people have to do when a loved one passes away.

But before that happens, I just wanted you to know that we’ve had to make more adjustments in our lives over the last six months than we’d planned on.

That persistent health issue mom had while you were still with us finally got diagnosed in October. It was colon cancer.

But please don’t worry. As you know, Mom is strong and is a fighter, and she has three daughters who would move heaven and earth if they could to help her get better.

Back in April during one of your last hospital visits, you told me “take care of your mama, because she needs it more than I do.” You had no way of knowing then what was wrong with her healthwise, but you wanted to make sure that no one lost sight of mom’s needs in the mad dash to make sure yours were being taken care of.

I am indeed taking care of mom – and she is of course doing the same with me, but she has also had a fantastic medical team through this so far, from her surgical oncologist to her medical oncologist as well as the nurses, CNAs, and administrative staff for both doctors. That’s pretty amazing considering the stress and strain the medical community has been through over the last three years to the point it has led to burnout, early retirements, etc.


Needless to say, because of mom’s diagnosis, we’ve been trying to make Christmas as special as we can even though it’s more challenging this year not just because of her doctor appointments and the degree of uncertainty over what’s to come, but also because it just doesn’t feel right doing some things without you being here.

Like you remember how we used to go shopping together this time of year for gifts for mom? I enjoyed those shopping trips with you, the chance to have lunch and some father-daughter time.

And when you couldn’t do that anymore, you would give me ideas for what to get her for you to give to her because you were listening to her when she thought you weren’t and you remembered the things she mentioned in passing that she’d like to have.

I have missed having you try to guess what you would be getting for Christmas, even though you used to love driving mom and me crazy because sometimes you were right on the mark and we had to do our best “you didn’t get that” impression in hopes that it didn’t show on our faces that that’s exactly what you were getting.

I have missed you calling me to tell me that Elvis’ “Blue Christmas” was playing on the radio. Though we were both Elvis fans, you knew I had no appetite for his singing of the Christmas classics, that one especially. I heard it the other day in the drugstore and smiled, thinking of you.


I will miss wrapping presents for mom that came from you. Though it added an extra layer of responsibilities to the ones I already had at Christmastime, knowing that I was helping you and that she’d be smiling Christmas morning at the thought that you were considerate enough to get something she’d talked about wanting made it worth it.

I will miss you getting up early enough on Christmas morning to play a church choir version of “Joy to the World” on blast (whether on vinyl record or CD) so it would jolt me into waking up and getting out of bed in order to to head to the Christmas tree at 5 a.m. to see what Santa had left for all of us.

I will miss waking up and seeing that Santa had eaten the cookies I left for him on the “Santa, I’ve been good” tray, something I treasured doing long after I knew who Santa “really was” and well after most sons and daughters have stopped writing letters to Santa.

Most of all, I miss you.

But mom and I know that every day is Christmas where you are now, and that has provided us with a great measure of comfort over the last few months.

As I write this, she’s asleep. Big day tomorrow. Another surgery, this one for her chemo port. If all goes well, she starts her treatments next month. She’s nervous, as am I, but we know that you’ll be watching us from above and maybe calling in a few favors from the “friends in high places” you know so that everything hopefully goes smoothly.


Merry Christmas in heaven, dad-o. Please give Muffie-cat some scratches behind the ear for us, because we miss her like crazy, too.

As they say, time goes on, but for as long as we have our memories we will never forget either of you.

Love you always,

Related: (VIP) A Reminder to Appreciate the Little Things


Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on RedState Videos