December 1987. I was 11. I was an angel in our elementary school's Christmas program that year, and I had one single line. "Glory to God in the highest. Peace on earth. Good will toward men." I was, by no means, the star of the show, but I was excited about my part.
The only issue darkening my excitement a little that year was that my daddy was going to miss the performance. Dad worked out of state for years, doing whatever it took to support our family. I don't remember where he was working that winter, but I imagine that it was somewhere warmer than Ohio since he made a career of building cable television systems. I don't remember having a conversation about Dad missing the show, but I remember wishing that he would be there.
The night of the performance was so exciting. We were performing in the high school auditorium, which was a pretty big deal to a bunch of elementary school kids. Children were running all over the place speaking too loudly and trying to be still in spite of the anticipation of performing. We were all being ushered here and there until it was time to perform. The play began with my friends Zach and Dani playing the lead roles. I stepped up to the microphone with two other girls all dressed as angels ready to announce the coming of Jesus.
As my eyes panned the auditorium, I saw a shadow.
A man was leaning against the left wall of the auditorium toward the back of the room.
There was no mistaking him even with the shining stage lights in my eyes.
To say that I delivered that line with all my heart would be a vast understatement. My dad was there to see me! He drove all the way home in the middle of the week to see me perform. My one line may have seemed small in the big scheme of things, but his presence during that performance was huge. He was there, and it meant the world to me.
Being there for that elementary Christmas program was inconvenient. Dad had to drive all day and miss work to make it happen. He went above and beyond the call of duty as a father to be there at a moment when my little girl heart wanted him to be there more than anything, when anyone realistic would have understood if he wasn't able to make it.
Those sacrifices made by my dad on that day have left me with a precious, childhood memory that I will never forget, a memory that comes to mind every December whenever I hear the Christmas story from the book of Luke. It reminds me to always thank Jesus for a daddy who wanted to be there and a heavenly Father who knew how important that was to this little girl.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."