Last Christmas…

I can’t help but reminisce on last Christmas. Dad was still here.

The anniversary of his lung cancer diagnosis is only a month away now. I’ve been just dreading it. I don’t know why.

We didn’t even know he was sick. In all of these pictures there’s a 4 inch tumor sitting in his right lung just festering. On bad days it hurts to look at old pictures before he was diagnosed with lung cancer. If only I could scream at myself through time and tell him to get to the doctor maybe he would still be here.

Christmas day was usually pretty low key for the Kramer family.

It was always just me and Karl and mom and dad until Craig came along and now Gannon and Carver. Most of the older kids had Christmas with their other side of the family so us four/five made our own traditions.

Dad would always go do chores until he came home around 9 or 10. I was such a selfish child looking back – when I was little I would beg Dad to get up super early so he could be done with chores earlier so he could come in and we could open gifts. How selfish begging him to go out EARLIER THAN 5:30 AM on a holiday just so I could have the gifts he worked so hard to buy. Ugh.

Anyway, we always play board games on Christmas. Usually Karl challenges mom and dad and Craig in chess followed by drinking Mogen David and playing The Farming Game. We graze on ham all day and pickled herring.

Last Christmas Dad was here. Ruby was here. My cousin Jody was unknowingly spending her last Christmas with her family. Our world has been turned upside down since last Christmas.

Look around the room at Christmas. Please don’t take the people who are there for granted. They might not be there next Christmas.

Man, what a downer of a blog post. Sorry. I can’t help but feel his absence. I’m so thankful for pictures. He hated pictures but I’m so thankful I took them anyway. Here are a few from last Christmas:

Look at the way Carver looks at my Dad.
Looks like Carver doesn’t approve of that chess move.
We couldn’t tell who was more excited about putting the combine together.
One happy (spoiled) farmer!
Jesus’s Birthday Cake

I hope you all are enjoying your Christmas with your family. I’ll let you know how ours goes in next week’s recap. Be sure to check back tomorrow for a new blog post!



  1. Shayna Campbell
    December 25, 2019 / 3:01 pm

    We always do a birthday cake for Jesus too. It’s been a tradition my cousins and I always looked forward to and I’m excited to continue it with my kids! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

  2. December 25, 2019 / 3:23 pm

    Not a downer at all–looking back is always bittersweet, that’s how life works. And it does work–looking back helps us look forward with clearer eyes and more insight into the important things we want to remember tomorrow.

    Merry Christmas and best wishes for your whole family.

    • Cathy Odle
      December 25, 2019 / 11:01 pm

      Remember the good times. ? I hope you have much joy this year. You have a beautiful family. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

  3. Susan the Farm Quilter
    December 25, 2019 / 8:46 pm

    It has been a hard year, but you have made it through together as a family, closer than ever. Family changes…you get new members through marriages and births/adoptions and you lose some members through divorce or death. You are blessed that your family lives relatively close together and you can see each other more often than most. You have learned the value of family (including the four-legged members) and you will cherish them all that much more. Hard lessons, to be sure, but the lessons are valuable.

  4. Karen
    December 25, 2019 / 9:16 pm

    Not a downer at all – but a reality check! Too many people don’t want to think about the reality until it’s too late. You are helping us all appreciate things and people while we still have them and helping us to deal with reality when we do have to…and we all do sometimes. You are certainly entitled to reminisce about the good times you’ve had with your family and we all enjoy hearing about them. It’s all part of the process. Merry Christmas and God bless you and all of your family.

  5. Jannette B.
    December 26, 2019 / 1:42 am

    Last year, my dad fell a few times in mid-December in long-term care. My sister and I thought that he had possibly fractured his hip or pelvis and took him to hospital by ambulance a few days before Christmas. We spent most of the next few days helping the staff care for him, but Christmas day we both had family obligations for the late afternoon – and that’s when the call came that his condition had become palliative – and 36 hours later he was gone.
    I know that we (as nurses) tend to look back on those days, and question why we didn’t see / do things differently – but that’s hindsight…. Dad used to always say that “no one dies before their time” (based on Psalm 139:16). So, this Christmas is tough here too, and I’m really struggling with his absence – but I wouldn’t want him to be here and in a lot of pain – and I know that I’ll see him again where we’ll all be in God’s presence!

  6. Darlynn Venne
    December 30, 2019 / 10:14 pm

    Look at your dad’s hands. Dirt and oil stained. Hardworking hands for the family he loved. You were blessed children to have such a grand dad.

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