I’m in Pennsylvania holding my father’s hand. It was a quick, last-minute Christmas trip. Daddy likes to hold hands in the evening.

I’m in Pennsylvania holding my father’s hand. It was a quick, last-minute Christmas trip. Daddy likes to hold hands in the evening.

I’m astounded at Dad’s determination. Nearly eight years out from a stroke, paralyzed on the right side of his body and without verbal communication, he continues to carry on, which is amazing to me.

Mom thinks he holds hands because he doesn’t want to leave. I reassured them both that all is well.

I am so grateful for my parents. I’m grateful I could get away for a few days to visit family for the holidays.

For a few months, I have thought about a trip home and a special gift for my siblings. Life is busy, so the gift idea sat on a back shelf.

Until three days before Christmas, when I walked into Michaels.

The story begins about 10 years ago, when my sisters were house cleaning my parents’ home. They were throwing out lots of old stuff from the attic.

I had driven in for the week to assist them and inspected the boxes ready for trash pickup. Inside one box, I found the original train track from Christmases past.

Frequently, at Christmastime, Daddy would take a 4-foot by 8-foot piece of plywood and create a little village with a train track and working train. His Christmas village had snow-covered streets, a church, a school, a dozen houses and an antique train that circled the village on its track.

When the train ran the track, the houses’ lights would turn on and off. Dad used his ingenuity with electronics to build this Christmas masterpiece.

Anyway, I found the 50-year-old train track, threw it in a trash bag and hid it in my car. Someday, I thought, I will make a shadow box for my siblings.

About two months ago, I began the project. I only had one problem. I’m not creative, artistic or inventive.

That is when I rely on friends. I’ll do anything for anybody ... but when it comes to these kinds of things, I desperately need help.

I received lots of support and ideas, but my fingers just can’t do the walking.

That’s where Kimberly at Michaels came in. She saw me searching for double stick tape, glue dots and floral wire in the candy department.

Kimberly led me to the correct department and gave me extra support. But when she walked away, I know she knew I was lost.

As I was checking out, she met me at the front register, and told me to bring my shadowboxes, and materials, to her at 9 a.m. when the store re-opened. She said she could help me before I left town.

I did as instructed and met Kimberly at 9 a.m. And the work began.

I handed Kimberly a five decade-old picture of the infamous Christmas village and train, a piece of train track, a 1950 picture of my parents, a 45 record and my dad’s card from his pinball and jukebox business.

I had two hours before we were to leave for Pennsylvania. This would take a Christmas miracle.

And it did.

In less than two hours, Kimberly assisted in the completion of seven gorgeous shadowboxes, helped me bag the finished gifts and carry them to my car.

We were off onto Interstate 70.

I only wish Kimberly could have seen the happiness from my sisters, brother and mom on Christmas day. What a beautiful Christmas gift with lots of family history.

All of the cousins, grandchildren and great grandchildren examined the shadowboxes.  

My dad, who cannot speak, smiled as he tapped on the glass box and jabbered his thoughts.

That meant the most to me. Dad’s happiness, just like the shadowbox, is another priceless memory.