A Christmas Remembrance - A Most Kind and Thoughtful Man

By Dan Schmitt | December 24, 2016 |   Dad died on December 7 th , and we Schmitt kids, all seven of us, buried him on December 12 th...

By Dan Schmitt | December 24, 2016 |  

Dad died on December 7th, and we Schmitt kids, all seven of us, buried him on December 12th in the small central Wisconsin town of Wausau. My Dad, Winfield Schmitt, was a child of the Great Depression, a soldier in the Battle of the Bulge, a devoted husband of 59 years, a loving father, and a touchstone for the hundreds of people who knew him.

Dad was almost 99 when he died. He was that diamond in the rough, a precious gem that is unearthed maybe once a century. Dad always put other people’s needs before his own.  He believed his job in life was to make other people happy.
Preparing handmade cookies, Christmas, 2015. 

Everyone who knew Dad has stories to tell about his unassuming kind and thoughtful character.  Since it’s the Christmas season, I want to share one of mine.

I was about five when it happened.  It was a couple days before Christmas, and the tree was standing in the corner of the living room undecorated.  The tree trimming always occurred in the Schmitt house on Christmas Eve, but the presents were neatly stacked underneath it anyway.  Like all kids, we were excited about the presents we would get and the presents we would give.  Mom and Dad gave each of us kids a dollar to buy presents for all the family members, which would have been five people at that time. 

I had bought Dad a 10-cent screwdriver, and I couldn’t wait for him to open his present on Christmas Eve.  The vow of secrecy was always kept in our house, except in this one instance!  For some reason I can’t possibly remember, I got angry at Dad, and I blurted out “OK, I’m not going to give you the screwdriver I bought you for Christmas!”  Immediately upon saying it, I burst into tears.

Dad asked me why I was crying, and I managed to get out in halting words, “You know what I bought you for Christmas.”  Now, Dad could have responded with “Well, I need a new screwdriver,” or “I’ll like it even though you told me what your present is,” or a hundred other ways in an attempt to make me feel better.

But Dad being Dad, he just knew what words would soothe the hurt I was feeling at that moment, and so he said, “Danny, I didn’t hear anything you said, so why are you crying?”

Immediately, my hurt turned to ecstasy because I thought Dad hadn’t learned the secret of his Christmas present.

Thanks, Dad, and Merry Christmas.


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