Appalachia Christmas Pap

Christmas without Pap


Christmas without Pap

For weeks my annoying brain has kept reminding me this would be the first Christmas in my entire life without Pap.

I started dreading the holiday season something fierce way back in the summer.

At Thanksgiving we made it fine even though I felt like we all tip-toed around and made double sure not to talk about Pap-or maybe that was just me that was tip-toeing because I was afraid of the wall of grief that I expected to cover us all.

I knew Christmas would be harder than Thanksgiving. How could we possibly have Christmas without Pap? I mean who’d use their pocket-knife to open all of their gifts; who’d bless the food and remind us how lucky we were to be blessed with one another as well as the hope of eternal life; who’d tease the girls and listen to the boys banter with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face?

I despaired over finding out that Christmas without Pap just wasn’t Christmas at all.

Have you ever dreaded something like a shot in the arm or a trip to the dentist or having stitches removed only to discover the event you’d built up in your mind wasn’t nearly as bad as you had it made out to be?

When Chitter was about nine years old she needed a shot in the arm. She cried and fussed when the doctor told us and when the nurse came back in to give the shot we had to set her on the counter and hold her. Right when the nurse inserted the needle Chitter reached out and pinched her, I guess she was going to make sure the nurse suffered a little too. Chitter then quickly started laughing hysterically because she realized the shot wasn’t such a big deal after all.

That’s what I found out about Christmas. Even without Pap it is still wonderful because he was right: We have one another and are so blessed in so many ways. And while I didn’t notice anyone using a pocket knife to open their gifts, there was plenty of teasing, bantering, smiling, and joyful exuberance over the real reason for the season from a family who loves each other in a mighty way-just like Pap taught us to.

Drop back by tomorrow and I’ll share my favorite gift with you. It came from way up north in Vermont and was made by folks I’ve never met nor seen.



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  • Reply
    Maggie Boineau
    December 27, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    I am new to your blog, but was touched by your post. I think it is something that most of us can relate to and appreciate very much how you are feeling. I could visualize him with his knife! Wishing you a very happy 2017.

  • Reply
    December 27, 2016 at 10:42 am

    Tipper, I know how hard the holidays can be without loved ones. This was my 3rd Christmas without my dad, and the 8th without my mom. I was an only child, so when they left, it took a chunk of my life. However, my husband is wonderful, and we talk about previous Christmas times with my parents, and smile and laugh. My parents were closer to my husband than his own parents, so he misses them almost as much as I do. The love never leaves us; it remains in different forms, and pops up to surprise us when we least expect it. I am glad that you felt Pap’s presence and love at Christmas, and I thank God you had a blessed day.

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    December 26, 2016 at 11:31 pm

    Wonderful!!! Plus, I believe Pap’s spirit is still right there with you, not wanting to leave the mountains or the ones he loves until you can all leave together.
    Merry Christmas, and prayers for 2017 being our best year yet.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Glenda C. Beall
    December 26, 2016 at 9:44 pm

    Tipper, I know you miss Pap, especially at Christmas as I miss my loved ones. We always name them in our prayers before we eat. That makes it easier for we are all thinking of them.
    I hope your new year will be a happy and healthy one for you and the girls and for the Deer Hunter. I still enjoy your blog so much.

  • Reply
    Donna W
    December 26, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    My grandma died in 1965, but she has been present in some way every Christmas. I remember the family dinners in her little house. The memories are always with me during this time of year. I told God that if He doesn’t mind I want heaven to be like Grandma’s house. I want to go to Grandma’s house when I die.

  • Reply
    December 26, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    I thought a lot about you and your family on Christmas Day and prayed that you would find The Comforter, without Pap. Your Family has really been blessed all these years by having Pap, and his music will live on and on. If every Family could experience a Pap, it would be a better world. …Ken

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    December 26, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    Maybe your giving proper perspective to the time in advance helped to prepare you foodie the missing. The Spirit was sweet and permeating!

  • Reply
    Dee Parks
    December 26, 2016 at 12:33 pm

    I’m so glad your Christmas with family was full of love. I still hold dear memories of Christmases with my parents and brother who are in heaven now, and that will never change, but that love for family goes on through each generation. God Bless.

  • Reply
    December 26, 2016 at 11:42 am

    Miss Cindy said it best! So glad the BP Christmas was so special. Just the way Pap would want it to be.

  • Reply
    Frank Vincent
    December 26, 2016 at 11:33 am

    Hi Tipper, I know how you feel… Both my Mother and Mother-in-law passed away this year… Each in our own way grieves the passing of our relatives and honoring their memories, caring support, loving smiles and warm hugs.
    God Bless!

  • Reply
    December 26, 2016 at 11:31 am

    Losing a loved one is not something you ever get OVER. You can only get THROUGH it.

  • Reply
    December 26, 2016 at 11:24 am

    This post reminds me of all the many ways Appalachian parents prepare us for life. All through the years little words of wisdom are given to us, and they seem to come back to us when we need them most. My mother reminded me long ago that we are not designed to mourn forever, and as I look back my greatest grief always seemed to become manageable
    Others always said when one door closes another will open. I think you have to look for the open door, and magically there it is right in plain sight. Later in life, I studied about support systems, and your family is a great example of how healing a good support system can be. With grief we have to muster up all the help we can get!
    That pocket knife could possibly be ranked as the best tool ever invented. I have seen family men trim back a rambling bush in my yard or work on a toy with their knife. The only time I ever questioned the importance of a pocket knife was when I was offered a hunk of cheese whittled off of a slab.

  • Reply
    Pam Danner
    December 26, 2016 at 10:33 am

    I am happy you all had a nice Christmas. I know Pap was with all of you, in your smiles and tears your music and laughter and your love for each other.

  • Reply
    December 26, 2016 at 10:22 am

    I, too, had been dreading Christmas because it would be the first one with out Mama. But somehow, we had a wonderful day, and I felt that she and my dad and brother were there. We joked, we laughed, we had a good day. I am glad you had a good Christmas.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    December 26, 2016 at 10:11 am

    I’m glad the dread was not realized. After Dad and Mom died I began thinking of how I could minimize the sorrow for our son and daughter. And I think there is only one good way; to make the memories while one can. I am sure Pap did that and I am sure you and the Deer Hunter are doing that in your turn. As the sadness slowly passes, the best energes distilled as the best.

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    December 26, 2016 at 10:03 am

    Hi, Tipper. It will get easier, but we will always miss our loved ones who are not with us. I remember my dad using his pocket knife to open things. Yesterday, I noticed my youngest son getting out his pocket knife while we were opening presents. Pap will always be with you in your memories, your children and in your hearts. Merry Christmas.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    December 26, 2016 at 9:39 am

    Our family mourned the loss o boh paents, grandparent or 2 years running. We missed them with every tradition we celebrate, but at some point during the day we all felt them with us.

  • Reply
    December 26, 2016 at 9:19 am

    Facing the holidays and other important events without a loved one gets a little easier after the first year. I’m glad you did ok. Pap left us all a wonderful Christmas present in his music.

  • Reply
    Carol Rosenbalm
    December 26, 2016 at 9:17 am

    Glad you made it through Christmas without Pap! After a few years my family went from what you called tip-toe around Pap being in a more wonderful place than we can imagine to remembering things Pap would say or do and just remember only LOVE!
    Gods comfort to you and family,
    Carol Rosenbalm

  • Reply
    Steve in Tn
    December 26, 2016 at 9:13 am

    Nothing wrong with opening packages with a knife. Someone should pick up that tradition to keep it going. Emulating something from a loved one is a good way to honor them. Happy New Year.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    December 26, 2016 at 9:12 am

    I thought of you and your family yesterday and that it was your first Christmas without your dad. I also thought of my dad and how I still miss him but I do get glimpses of him from time to time from a family member who does or says something or look in way that he would. That always makes me smile. And then every time I look at my hands I am looking at his hands. They live on in us we just have to look for them. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    December 26, 2016 at 9:03 am

    Tipper–To me, part of the enduring joy of Christmas involves longing looks backward into the world we have lost and the dear ones who were part of that world. With precisely that type of thinking in mind, yesterday I told my 15-year-old granddaughter that I hoped, 60 years down the road, that she would have her own fond memories and that they would match mine.
    It’s good to know your Christmas was a joyful one even if tinged by a bit of bittersweetness, and all the best to you, yours, and indeed the whole Blind Pig gang for 2017.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    December 26, 2016 at 8:35 am

    I thought of you many times yesterday, Tipper – I’m so glad to know you and your family shared a lovely Christmas 🙂

  • Reply
    December 26, 2016 at 7:55 am

    Glad to hear you made it over a major hurdle in the grieving process. Actually, I think Pap was there in a lot of different ways.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    December 26, 2016 at 7:11 am

    Yes, Tip, it was a lovely Christmas and Pap was very much there…he is present in every one of you who carry his blood and very present in the hearts of all who knew him. We had a good Christmas just like he expected us to.

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