My father was the most talented man I ever met. He was a cartoonist and began drawing as a boy. In 1957, he entered a drawing contest and won first prize which accelerated his career quickly.
The contest led to a permanent job with the Saturday Evening Post, and he became the ghost-artist of the infamous comic strip Little Lulu.
After years of drawing this comic strip, he and another artist drew the animation for Golden Books and created "Little Lulu Goes To the Beach." I remembered having this book as a little girl but could not find it as years went by.
In 1990, I held my father's hand as he passed from this world to the next. Naturally, it was the hardest thing I had to experience, yet the most peaceful.
The first Christmas after the loss of a parent is such a difficult one, and it simply cannot be the same as Christmas past.
It was close to Christmas, and my husband was shopping at the swap meet in Southern California. (I know you're wondering what a place for Christmas gifts - I wondered that too!) He came upon a vendor who had thousands of books in boxes. He said there were so many books you could never have set out to look for something specific.
As he was looking on top of one of the boxes, he found "Little Lulu Goes To the Beach" on display. He bought the book and gave it to me as a Christmas present. I don't believe it was coincidence that Woody Kimbrell was the illustrator of that particular book.
The book was yellowed and had a musty smell. It had to be at least 30 years old. I opened the crisp pages and absorbed the memory of my father (not that he was yellowed and musty smelling!) I relished the nostalgic feeling.
I have to say that was the best Christmas gift I ever received from my husband, but most of all, from my father.
Since then I have really cherished each Christmas and my time with family. I don't stress over what to buy and what to spend. I believe Christmas is about being spiritual and thankful for family and especially good health. My mom and dad used to say if you can wake up and hear the birds singing in the morning, you know you're lucky to be alive! Merry Christmas!