A Dad for the Holidays
Guest Post and Poetry by Kirsten Porter
The winter months always seem to hold a sense of nostalgia for me. Memories of the holidays with my family, gathering around the fire’s glow, my mother and father as the central figures who held us all together.
No one loved the winter holidays more than my dad. He looked forward to my mom’s Thanksgiving green-bean casserole and the apple pies she made at Christmas using my grandma’s secret recipe. My dad reveled in gift-giving, always adding some component of surprise. I can still hear him after all the gifts had been unwrapped, playfully whisper to my mom, "Look over there, way behind the Christmas tree! It looks like Santa left one present. Maybe it’s for you?"
This holiday tenderness when all things seemed magical is the dad of my childhood. The dad who woke up early on Saturday mornings to make waffles swimming in maple syrup for his family. The dad who told the most groan-worthy dad jokes that made all of his kids roll their eyes and walk away saying, "oh, dad!" The dad who shared his love for books with me, so we’d spend the day browsing used book stores together.
I miss my dad. Now he is just my father.
Something has changed between us. It started years ago, and with each passing year of disrepair, the rift between us has grown larger, more painful. I look at my father and want to find the dad I lost. So often, we think about little girls needing their dads, but little girls grow up to be women. And these women still need their dads.
“It’s never too late,” a friend tells me. “Your father is still here. You can heal your relationship.” I remember all the magic and wonder and love that once filled my dad. I want to believe healing is possible and my dad is still here, wanting to find me, too. I want to believe that in this season of miracles, my dad is waiting for his daughter to come home.
The crossword puzzle
words black and white
the newspaper stains my father’s hand.
I watch him drink his morning coffee
and search for the clues
in perfect, exact, predictable words.
Later, he studies me like a sentence
I am fragmented
an unfinished thought escaping
from the black
and white of his words.
I reach for him –
He turns the page.
- Kirsten Porter
You taught me how to hold the bat, hands wrapped
around a garage sale Louisville slugger,
choke up a bit, there
that’s a good grip.
You threw me easy pitches
then threw your hat in the air and whooped
when bat touched ball
and I raced around the makeshift bases:
a jump rope, a sneaker, a cabbage patch kid
until I found myself
back at where we started.
This is how it should have stayed –
no curveballs between us
just a straight line pitch over the plate
so I could swing, feel the connection
when bat meets ball
rounding all the bases
to make my final run home.
- Kirsten Porter
Kirsten Porter is a freelance editor, poet, humanities tutor, and professor. She earned an MFA in creative writing from George Mason University and has taught creative writing, composition, and literature studies at Marymount University. Porter’s poetry and teachings focus on women, cultural diversity, community, and the ability for all to repair what is broken in themselves and the world. Her poems have appeared in journals (Poet Lore, The Limberlost Review) and anthologies (This Is What America Looks Like, Voices of the Grieving Heart). Porter is the assistant to poet and literary activist E. Ethelbert Miller and the editor of The Collected Poems of E. Ethelbert Miller, published by Willow Books. She resides in Northern Virginia with her five rescue dogs.