My dad is never far from my thoughts.

Today is no exception.

Last week marked 21 years since he passed away. I always find December 14th a difficult day but I try to remember how much he loved us and try not to dwell on the ifs, buts and maybes.

Last year on December 14th I decided I needed to mark the 20 years since I lost my dad and buy a plant to keep and remember him by. Getting to the crematorium is tricky when it’s an hour and a half drive and we have the kids to think about. Aside from that I honestly don’t like going, it just takes me right back to 21 years ago when I was a 14 year old girl stood staring out at the frozen grass and trees wishing that somehow everyone had got it all wrong.

So last year my husband John took me off to the garden centre to find the perfect plant to remember my dad by…

I found the perfect plant alright. It was a half dead Christmas tree!

Meet Chris. He was so near to death I stuck a bobble hat on him so he didn’t look so naked and well, twig like!

People saw me buying Chris and smiled, a couple stopped me and asked if I felt sorry for the tree and was going to try and resurrect it. I felt like I was injecting a bit of Christmas spirit in to the place, and of course the people. Other people looked at me like I was crazy, who in their right mind would be buying a tree that next to all the others looked pitiful and dead.

I could have picked any tree but I picked this one because they didn’t see what I saw.

I saw my dad.

I saw my dad in that tree.

I also saw my daughter and I knew in that moment dad was looking down on us all.

I couldn’t leave it behind.

I saw what nobody else in the whole garden centre saw.

I saw a tree that needed some love and care.

I saw a tree with real potential.

I saw a tree that deserved a chance.

I saw a tree that people pitied, walked past and left behind.

I saw a tree that wasn’t like all the other trees.

I saw a tree that had real beauty within it.

I saw how people had seen my dad and I thought about how people had also perceived my daughter. Two very different people with two very different stories but both viewed as ‘different’ by society, misunderstood and their brilliant and amazing qualities missed.

I saw a tree that needed somebody to believe in it, to nurture it and help it grow just like my dad and also just like Isla…

And that’s exactly what I did.

Chris the Christmas tree may not win any awards but he’s alive, he’s growing and he’s doing well.

So what was the point in this story?

There are many:-

Look for the beauty inside.

Don’t judge somebody or something by your preconceived ideas, look beyond and you’ll see how truly amazing they are.

Everyone and everything can reach their full potential if others look for it and believe in them.

With the right environment, a whole lot of love, care, attention and patience anyone and anything can flourish.