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By Tracy Leonard
Parishioner, St. Mary’s, Evans Mills

It was December, about three years or so ago, when I was out to dinner with my parents at a local restaurant. We had just come from my parent’s home where we photographed my brother-in-law and niece as they prepared to head to the Sugar Plum Ball (a father daughter dance at the Dulles State Office Building in Watertown).

After ordering our meals, my eyes caught glimpse of a beautiful young woman and her handsome father. The two of them were elegantly dressed as if they were headed to a fancy holiday party. I couldn’t help but acknowledge them and ask where they were headed looking so good. The daughter smiled ear to ear as she looked at her father and replied “We’re going to the Sugar Plum Ball!” It was without hesitation that I quickly looked at my dad, grinned and replied to her – “My daddy won’t take me to the Sugar Plum Ball!” We all chuckled and concluded our conversation by wishing them an evening of fun and happiness together.

That holiday season came and went… it was now December again. As my brother-in-law and niece joyfully posed for pictures, I again caught myself teasing my father… “My daddy won’t take me to the Sugar Plum Ball!” As usual, we laughed at the thought of it, considering I was old enough to have a daughter of my own attending the ball!

It wasn’t until this year that my silly teasing became a reality. It was now my turn to put on the evening gown and be escorted into the State Office Building by the most handsome, charming and fun-loving date- MY DAD.
As we prepared for this evening, we both were excited but expressed our nervousness… we didn’t know what to expect, nor did we want to look silly seeing as though I was certainly going to be the oldest little sugar plum there.

As I shared the news our evening plans with friends and co-workers, I received many words of excitement and endearment, yet some teased at the thought of me joining four, six or eight year olds and their dads at the ball. A few even joked that I should have gone to the Mayors Ball (a professional, adult ball) versus the Sugar Plum Ball. The closer it got to December 3rd, the more silly I felt about going as a 25 year old with my dad. As we arrived, I was greeted by many professionals whom I encounter daily through work. They chuckled but thought my dad and I were cute. Sure, I felt a little silly. It only became funnier as I was tapped on the shoulder by this man who teased, “Why are you here? There are no mothers allowed!” I smiled and said, “ha, ha, I am not a mother… this is my father!” Needless to say, none of this stopped my dad and I from having one of the nicest evenings anyone could ask for! We shared laughter, a plate of food, some drinks, and officially, we were the last two on the dance floor!

I quickly became not so embarrassed at the thought of being the oldest sugar plum there, but embarrassed at my own lack of character. How could I let the thoughts of others make me feel silly about spending an evening with my father- the man who made me, raised me and who helps me to be the best I can be. I couldn’t have been more proud to show off my dad that night and let everyone know that I admire him for all he has done, all he has become and all he continues to do; not only for me, my four sisters and my mom, but for all those he encounters on a daily basis. He is a man of integrity, value, genuine compassion, faith, fortitude and love. This is MY dad!

I hope and pray that each of us, especially this holiday season will cherish and treasure the time we get to spend with our family members. Never be afraid to acknowledge those you love. Thank them and let that love be an outward, visible sign for others to emulate. Life is short… love without limit!

I love you Charlie… DAD!

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