How to Be a Dad with a Christmas Twinkle in His Eyes

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Twinkling lights are a good thing, but there’s another kind of twinkling that dads need to have…

One of my most cherished memories from childhood at Christmas involved being 15 or 20 feet off the ground in a tree. That’s what my brother and I did as teenagers when it was time to hang the Christmas lights. (Some of you may have heard this story before, but it’s the memory from my childhood that always comes to mind this time of year.)

How to Be a Dad with a Christmas Twinkle in His EyesI “helped” my dad plant the tree when I was six or seven, and by the time we were teenagers it had grown huge. And that’s when Dad started talking us into “helping.” I remember being as high as the roof of the house. And I would call down nervously, “Dad …!” And from the ground he would say, “Oh, no, you’re gonna be fine. Just put those lights over on that next branch there.”

And something about his voice put us at ease. Then he’d say, “Now, wrap those lights around over there.” He knew what we could handle—even if it seemed like we were taking risks—and he was there to guide us through it.

It took a while, but what came after that was vintage Ralph Casey. He’d say, “OK, everyone, get in the car.” We’d pile in and drive up and down the street looking at the lights. We’d go down a few other streets, but mostly we were checking out that tree in our front yard. It had to be just right. And of course, if something was off, my brother and I were in for another tree-top adventure. I really miss those days.

I didn’t carry on that tradition with our kids; they never had to climb trees to hang lights. But I have tried to follow my pop’s modeling when it comes to his attitude and that twinkle in his eye when he said, “Everyone get in the car.” He was excited to share those moments with us and to keep the tradition going every year.

As I look forward to celebrating Christmas this year with our children and grandchildren, I want to have a twinkle in my eyes. I want to exude joy to my family because of what the season means.

I know that’s what motivated my pop, too. Whether it’s the lights or the music, a candlelight service at church or some cherished family tradition, do it with all of your heart and let your kids see your joy. Smile with your whole face, dad. I can tell you, they will remember that gleam in your eye for many Christmases to come.

ACTION POINTS for Dads on the Journey

  • Tell your children a favorite Christmas memory or tradition from your childhood.
  • Take your family for a drive to look at Christmas lights in your community, then treat them to hot chocolate—or ice cream if it’s warm where you are.
  • Make a mental adjustment for the holidays, where you focus more on serving and blessing others instead of seeking what you want. Make it your goal to find joy in facilitating activities that will bring a twinkle to others’ eyes.
  • Ask your children, “Whom do we know that needs some Christmas joy?” Follow through and help your family meet a need or do something encouraging.

We want to hear from you. What are some of your favorite Christmas memories from childhood? And how are you intentionally seeking to put a twinkle in your kids’ eyes this year? Please leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.


Carey CaseyCarey Casey is the CEO of the National Center for Fathering, a nonprofit organization dedicated to changing the culture of fathering in America by enlisting 6.5 million fathers who to make the Championship Fathering Commitment. NCF believes that every child needs a dad they can count on, and uses its resources to inspire and equip men to be the involved fathers, grandfathers and father figures their children need. Subscribe to his weekly email tip by clicking here: “Yes! I want tips on how to be a great dad who loves, coaches, mentors, and inspires my children.




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  1. Sachin Trivedi says:

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful piece of joy… Well said by Bob Brennaman in the comments section that “anybody who is a dad, Christian or otherwise will gain some help from” it is absolutely true. I believe we are all a global family and we connect greatly as fathers, parents, human beings & fellow global citizens… Down the line, we all are ONE… I am from India & i too have been gaining fantastic insights from over the period. This blog too about Christmas Celebrations is very similar to what experiences we have had from our father during our New year celebrations like going in the streets to see lights, decorating the house/trees with lights…. Our Mother preparing special sweets to savour during that time of the year… our fond childhood memories also include the ones of spending some fantastic moments on the trees… Our father & mother have indeed given us experiences which we cherish till date… And today with the inspiration from the like minded people like all of us from around the world, we are trying to make a similar contribution as parents in the story of our kids…

  2. Rodney Dardenne says:

    Casey and Tony,

    In light of the recent tragedy at Stoney Brook Elementary and abroad, both of you men, have great opportunity to address the ongoing deteriation of society – the destruction of the family. We as a countrty can not legislate enough law nor mandate enough bans of weapons to “right the ship”. These measures only address the symptoms. We need to cure the “core”.

    I would appeal to you both as a dad, husband and father in connecting with our President. Perhaps, you may already have exercised communication in remedy. I have full confidence in your direction and message. I have personally seen the difference these programs make within the walls of the schools and extend far beyond. I think there is more to do – more to offer – and more impact of a greater scale is possible through your vision of correcting the brokeness of the family unit today. I pray that you both would seize opportunity as God provides. Historically, we are able to track and assess the destruction of every major civilization by uncovering the value placed on its family structure and health. May God give you both wisdom beyond your years as you plod forward.


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