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I honestly didn’t think he was going to make it…

Last June, my Dad’s health took a major turn for the worse. My sister and I didn’t honestly think Dad would make it to see Father’s Day. My mom, sister, and I started planning for what seemed to be the end. It was excruciatingly painful.

But in classic Dad fashion, he found the strength to keep fighting and continues to grace us with his presence. In fact, Dad and I were even able to make our annual Christmas bread this year, something I honestly believed I would not get to do.

Making our Polish babka has been a tradition for decades. Dad learned the recipe from his great-grandmother and it has been passed down through each generation. When I was little, I would wait eagerly for the day my dad would finally make this delectable treat. Most of the time, I would just watch him and marvel at his concoction. And then as I got older, I assisted him with the baking. And now, because my dad is so weak, I have assumed the role of lead baker while still under the watchful eye of my dad.

The precision required for this bread is nothing short of an advanced chemistry experiment that you can eat at the end. As a scientist, this always appealed to my father. Scald the milk precisely to this temperature, set the proofing oven precisely to that temperature, and not a degree more or less, let the dough rise two times, and on and on. The details are exact, and the finished product is the most delicious bread I have ever tasted.

But this bread is more than just something tasty to eat for me. It’s family memories. It’s tradition. It’s the spirit of the Holidays. It’s joy, laughter, and happiness in every loaf. But most of all it’s LOVE. Love of family. Love of giving. Love of helping and serving. Love of tradition. Love of life. And the love between a father and his little girl…

I fear this was the last time I got to experience this magic with my Dad. Who knows, I hope I am wrong about this, but I don't think so. But no matter what, these memories with my dad will last a lifetime.

And so, during this Holiday season, whatever it is that you celebrate, I hope you will celebrate LOVE most of all.

Thanks, Dad. I love you more than you can possibly know.