By David C. Clark

At the end of 2001 my father’s cancer was such that he could not sit or stand without great pain. Lying down was the only position that offered some level of physical comfort. As Christmas came closer, he and my mother planned logistically how the day of family gathering, gift exchanging, and dinner would work. I felt my mother’s desire to make my father feel safe and dignified and her anxiety around how and if our family would offer him those same things.

That Christmas day was a beautiful moment in my family’s history as I have experienced it. We did not resist the new way we needed to be together and instead allowed our traditions and ourselves to bend into the shape of the present moment. Indeed, my father had to lie down on the sofa for the entire day and we camped out in the living room with him. We talked and laughed and opened presents there. We ate turkey and pie with plates on the coffee table, our knees, and the floor. The living room felt like our clubhouse that day. It was both not quite big enough and exactly the right size for the closeness we needed to feel.