One Last Surprise

As Christmas quickly approaches, it is the perfect time for a favorite holiday memory blog hop hosted by Janie Junebug and Cherdo on the Flipside!  I confess, I didn’t even start to ponder this until the last minute, but as I thought about it, I don’t think I can come up with a better memory than one I posted a couple of years ago on my old blog.  If you’ve read it before, I apologize, but if not, I hope you enjoy it:


My dad was a master present-giver.  Every year, without fail, there was always a bounty of presents under our painstakingly-decorated tree.  No matter what else was happening, no matter how poor we were, and we were definitely poor at times, he always found a way to Santa-tize our house.

On the really special years, his signature move came after all the presents under the tree had been opened.  He would sit there, looking dissatisfied, until we asked him what was wrong.  He would reply that it seemed like something was missing.  Then, sly grin on his face, he would reach into a hidden spot, saying, “it looks like there’s one more.”  And then he would pull out an amazing, surprise present for each of us.

The Christmas after he died?  He managed to do it one last time.

He passed in November that year and I was still living with my step-mom when Christmas rolled around.  We hadn’t put up a tree or decorated and didn’t really plan to do much celebrating.  It was hard to have holiday spirit when the one who carried the Christmas torch was missing.

We each had bought a present for the other and sat down in our bare living room to open them.   After I appreciated my new purse and she her new sweater, my step-mom said, “‘Wait, there’s one more.”  She reached behind the end table, and pulled out a small box.

“This is from your dad,” she said.

I stared at her, about to ask how that could be, when she continued, “He ordered it for you before he died.”

Instantly tearful, I took the box from her, and opened it.  Inside was a bracelet to match the necklace my dad had given to me for my birthday that year.



From a jewelry line based on the “Footprints in the Sand” poem, it had a little heart with small footprints walking through the center.   All I could think of as I gazed at the bracelet was the last line of the poem:

“…My precious, precious child,
I love you and I would never leave you
during your times of trial and suffering.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you.”

My dad had died unexpectedly from a heart attack, so he hadn’t bought it knowing how meaningful it would end up being to me.  He had just been doing what he loved to do…buying me a special present.  Even through my tears, I couldn’t help but smile as I imagined my dad sitting there with us, smirking in satisfaction at pulling off that last, surprise Christmas gift.


Merry Christmas to those who celebrate!


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Good Night, Love Ya, See You Tomorrow…

My dad died in November 17 years ago.  I was shocked when my step-mom reminded me how long it’s been.  But in another way, it seems much longer than that.  I miss that guy, even though he was “a handful.”  Oh the fights we used to have 🙂  I began to experiment with eye rolling as a teen and you can guess what behavior would send my dad from 1 to 10 in .5 seconds.  So of course rolling my eyes became my favorite thing to do.

He was a bit on the controlling side (my brother will laugh at the understatement there) like, if we didn’t know our weekend plans in advance, say on Monday or Tuesday, it was a major fight to get out the door on Saturday.  But, seriously, what teenager knows what they are doing on the upcoming weekend on Monday??

And the Christmas tree.  Oh, the Christmas tree.  There were rules.  Like these:

  • All ornaments must hang; they could not rest on the branch below them.
  • No ornaments could hang from the string of lights, they could only hang from the branch.
  • Two ornaments of the same color could not dangle next to one another on the tree. Never, ever.
  • There could be no obvious “holes” in the tree.  You had to start on the inside of the tree and work outward to ensure that said holes would not exist.
  • Tinsel could never, ever be used, unless you were willing to put it on the tree one strand at a time.

It has made putting up my own tree interesting, as I find myself purposely breaking the rules, while simultaneously feeling guilty for breaking the rules.  Ah, parental issues.

And, oh, the issues from his ‘teasing.’  It could be a bit warped, like the time he hung my favorite doll from my bedroom light. Still so mad about that!

But in spite of the challenges of growing up with my father, I loved him like no one else. He was the one who taught me the passion of reading a good book.  He indulged my love of animals, all the way back to the night when he brought a stray cat I had wanted to save against my mom’s wishes in from outside and snuck it into my bed. He was smart and funny and underneath the bluster, a big softie.  No surprise that smart and funny are at the top of my list in looking for a partner.

Yeah, I miss him.  One of the things I miss the most is saying goodnight.  Even though we weren’t an especially emotionally demonstrative family, we always ended the night with a kiss and me saying, “Good night, love ya, see you tomorrow.”  In later years, his response would be “Spaghetti” because he swore I said it one night while half asleep, but I think he made that up.  Still, I wouldn’t have liked saying goodnight any other way.

dad and us 2

And there he is…


Good night, love ya and see ya tomorrow, guys!  (well, not really tomorrow, but just go with it)


P.S.  Not too long ago, the lovely Janie Junebug passed on a list of 50 questions that she answered on her blog.  I decided to add them to my About Kinley Dane section, for those that want to learn all kinds of completely useless information about me.  So if you are feeling particularly bored…feel free to peruse: About Kinley Dane.

Is The Candy Gone? Is It Safe To Come Out, Yet?

Woo, Friday was a tough day, food-wise for me.  It started first thing in the morning at work, because everyone decided to put their treats out right away.  I stayed strong the first part of the day, eating my normal breakfast and determinedly trying to focus on work and ignore the siren calls of the junk.  But by lunchtime, it was all over.

To preface this, you should know that about 5 months ago, I completely changed my diet.  I primarily eat a plant-based, whole food diet now.  I’ve lost weight, I look better, feel better and all that fun stuff.  I definitely treat myself now and then, so I’m not completely inflexible, but generally I try to keep my treats to one meal or dessert. And normally, I honestly have no trouble sticking to it.  But on Halloween?  It was an all day food orgy of the junkiest kind.


hot dogcakecandy wrappers


There was more, but those are the ones I paused long enough to take a picture before I stuffed my big mouth with them.  It might not seem soooo terrible, but consider this: I no longer eat meat, sugar or processed food.  Which pretty much exactly represents what I ate that day.  Saturday and even Sunday were TOUGH getting my raging food hormones (are there such things?  it sure feels like there are) back under control.

Halloween night was actually a reprieve.  Because our weather was awful this year, my brother and sister-in-law decided to take the kids to the mall for trick or treating.  I had no idea malls even did this, but apparently, it’s a thing!

I figured it would be crowded, but people, I had no idea…

mall halloween 2

The kids had to wait in these HUGE lines to get their candy:

mall halloween

Which meant there was not a lot of candy to be had.  Fortunately for the kids, they have the most awesome aunt (me!) and grandparents who brought them some extra candy to make sure they had their proper allotment of Halloween goodies.

And, okay, I did kind of pull a pathetic aunt move by buying the girls organic suckers, instead of the ring pops I was also considering, but thank the candy gods,  my brother told me the next day that the girls loved them.

organic suckers

I wasn’t completely pathetic…I did get them some other fun suckers and I got my nephews giant Hershey bars and other chocolates…

Halloween suckers Hershey barcandy bars


…AND now I want junk food again. Great.

Okey dokey, I better get myself out of here until the scent of sugar has dissipated.  Feel free to stay and snack, but just be sure to take the empty wrappers with you!

Oh, and p.s.  I do allow myself a few pieces of chocolate every night, because chocolate is one thing I’m not gonna give up.  I just make sure it’s dark & organic and I take these tiny little bites so I can savor it.  Here’s my absolute favorite brand!


Cue angels singing. No, seriously, it’s that good.