Christmases have always been a bit of a mixed bag for us. Being a time for “family” he often reminded me that I was not his “real” family… you know, his “blood”. He would often ask to spend the holidays with his aunt and half-siblings, and I totally understood, even if the reminder stung a little.

I told him a number of years ago, “I may not be your father, but you are my son.” I kept reminding him that I wasn’t talking to the teenager, but rather the adult that would one day look back on this and understand.

For the first couple of years, he didn’t even think of getting me a present. He didn’t have the means to buy anything, and just didn’t believe he could make something that mattered. Once I convinced him that “it’s the thought that counts” he made a habit of regifting things that I had given him. He’d add a little note on it, and I had to pretend that I didn’t know where it came from… but it was a sweet gesture.

I started to expect regifts when two years ago he surprised me with a little typed note. He admitted that he wasn’t “warm and fuzzy” like me, but that he appreciated what I’ve done for him over the years. It was the best gift of the year.

Last year’s note had a bit more mature sound to it. He talked about how I’m helping him navigate through the most difficult time of teenhood. At least I felt seen.

This year he took it to another level. He couldn’t do it secretly. He needed my stash of photos and my graphic skills, but he sketched it out. Just a hodge-podge of he and I and the dogs… with this in the center:

“This is my Family and there’s no Place like Home.”

I had to act happily surprised.

I wasn’t acting 😊


The biggest gift I want to give him is a trip to England in April 2023 when I’m showing my art in a gallery in London. Please help make this dream come true. Every little bit helps.

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