Friday, February 25, 2011

Schmalzy but True

Today is my Dad's birthday.  He's 54...I think.  Yes.  He's definitely 54.   As long as I don't forget my age, I will always be able to figure out his.  Anyway, today is his birthday and I think it's only right to take a couple of minutes to say how fantastic I think he is.

Cry Me a River
Crying in relation to birthdays, celebrations and people we love is practically a family tradition; one that I think started with my Dad, or at least he is the first person that comes to mind on the subject of being sentimental.  It's one of the things I love about  Dad.  He just can't talk about the people he loves without getting a little choked up, or in the case of talking about Mom - a lot choked up. In fact, I think our family likes to torture ourselves on such occasions by writing really nice things that make us cry on purpose. We give cards, except for when I forget - I think I'm the only one forgets, but I also blame that on my Dad.  Anyway -there is that awkward moment where you are watching the person you gave the card to open and read it, and tear up, and then we look at each other and laugh, cause we're both crying and say something about what useless saps we are, wipe our tears, and feel really good.  'Course - I'm just speaking for myself right now - maybe everyone else in the family wishes it would all go away - but I have my doubts.

In terms of crying there is nothing quite like our Christmas cry fest over the Christmas poem that my Dad writes every year.  It has a nice lilt, great pentameter, usually a Suessical quality to it, and yet, it makes all of us Strahl kids cry.  Our spouses, and now the oldest grandkids have learned to just sit quietly and smile - (they'd not dare to smirk, would they?) at this little tradition.  I know deep down, they love it like we do.

He Loves Her, Ya, Ya, Ya
I love the way my Dad loves my Mom.  Next to Jesus, there really is no one that holds a candle to her in my Dad's eyes, and she loves him back just as much.   It's hard to write a little Ode to my Dad without mentioning her, cause they are one, really. There was such security growing up knowing how much my Dad loved my Mom.  I have learned so much watching their marriage, and hope that my kids see the same thing in  us.
Chuck and Deb

Name That Tune
Something else I love about my Dad is his affinity for having a partial song for every occasion.  Now, he doesn't know full songs - but he knows a tune and a line for every occasion.   Whenever I break out into song (and it happens a lot) and I start singing the first line that comes to my head of a song I don't really know (which happens a lot), I think of my Dad.   It's quirky, and I love it.  He introduced me to the partial songs from the Beatles, Neil Diamond, and CCR to name a few, and I'm not ashamed to say I love it, even though I still don't know all the words to the songs after all these years.

Get 'Er Done
If there's one thing I know I got from Dad, it's the love of a project.  Something to do.  A purpose for the day.  It might be gardening, landscaping, building a fence, painting a room, or cleaning a garage - but I love that Dad always has a project of some kind going on.  It was from my Dad I learned the value of a sketching out the latest dreams and schemes for the house and yard.  They're just ideas, and ideas are free, and fun to share.  I think the family motto for doing projects goes something like:  "We're not good, but we're slow".  Did I mention self-deprecation is also a gift we have learned from Dad?

Regardless of whether are not we are adept at getting a project completed, I think there is such joy in having purpose.  I am thankful for the ability to work, and to work hard.  I learned that from my Dad. I may have also learned the art of getting a project 7/8 done - but we're just talking about the good stuff today :)

Wanna Work, I Mean, er, Play?
When we were kids, "playing with Dad" usually meant going into to town to get parts or pieces to whatever it was that was going on.  Then we got to come home and "help".  I looked forward to those times a lot - it may be because Dad always needed a chocolate bar along the way too. Mmmmm, chocolate bars.

Having kids of my own now, I could question how much my Dad actually loved having us along for the trip, or the help, for that matter, but it's the memory I have - that he always was glad we were around.  For the record, I play "Get 'Er Done" a lot with my kids, and for the most part, I love it when they do a project along with me. If that means I am more like my Dad in that way too -that's a-o-k with me.

A Man and His Convictions
I have always, always, been proud of my Dad.  I did my best to make my parents doubt that I felt that way in my rebellious youth, but honestly, it was an almost impossible task to not be proud of him. I remember trying so hard to think of something not to like, to fit in. I remember tearfully complaining to a youth leader (I may have been a tad dramatic, but I outgrew it) that my parents were just too young, and that they needed to be older so that they could understand less what I was going through.  Ah, hormones and teenage angst.  Funny thing when your Dad  never rolls his eyes or speaks poorly about his kids being teenagers (or any stage, for that matter) - it tends to make it harder to say how lame your parents are too. In fact, I remember it seemed like my Dad went out of his way to tell others how much he always enjoyed his family.  There is a lesson in there somewhere.

I have always trusted Dad's word. I know that he will never compromise on things that really matter.  He loves God and wants to do what is right by God's standards.  He has set the example of doing what is right, regardless of the personal cost.  Actions truly speak louder than words.

Here's To You, and Cake
I could write so much more; like how he calls all of us girls, "babe" and my brother, "son".  Or how he runs for the sole purpose of eating more dessert.  I smile a lot when I think of my Dad, and that's a good thing.  I am looking forward to gathering as a family to eat way too much good food, followed by way too much dessert, followed by statements of self loathing for over-eating.  It will be totally worth it, cause a man like that deserves to be celebrated at least once a year.

Happy Birthday Dad.  I love you.


  1. Karina - that was awesome. I hope he sees your tribute!

  2. I have always really liked your Dad too. He reminds me of my own. Especially the crying part! haha...there's something about my Dad that makes it harder for him to hide his emotions the older he gets. I love him for that too. I'm happy for you that you got to experience a great Dad. A rarity these days...good on ya. Great blog. :)
    ~Lorilee Gill

  3. okay, this made me tear up too. Although I think the tears tradition in my family is really only me and my mom. I loved reading this post, Karina, partly because I know who your dad is, but don't really know him - so it was nice to learn more about him. And also because he sounds a lot like my own wonderful dad. :-)


  4. Great tribute. I have, on occasion, dropped his name when it came up in conversation or media, saying something like "yeah, I used to call him Dad too". Always been very proud to know your dad and your family, knowing we are truly all part of the same family when you get down to the nitty gritty. Happy Birthday, Mr. Strahl... I wish you many more good times, to be enjoyed by many.
    ps.- I love schmalzy.

  5. Karina, what a beautiful tribute. The bond that we share with your parents is truly the best part of our time in politics. Our friendship with them is as close to family as one can get. Love them both (and even their Canuck loving offspring :))

  6. So sweet! I enjoyed this alot, and I know that he knows that you are amazing. Happy Birthday Mr. Strahl!

  7. Beautiful blog and tribute Karina. You do have very special parents who have always welcomed everyone under their roof...especially if you laughed at Chuck's jokes. I will always remember the love between your mom and dad - I had never known any couple so obviously deeply in love as those two. Happy Birthday Chuck!


  8. VERY special tribute, Karina! Sounds like you have a great relationship with your dad - so awesome!

  9. What a sweetheart you are.Love you so much.
    xo, Mom


I love it when you leave comments, they make my day!

If you're not sure which option to use, just click on the "Name/URL" option - put in your name, leave the URL blank, and comment away!