There are 365 days in the year—only one day is Christmas.

Here you see a photo of my grandson Camden from last Friday, December 21st, as the Trinity Preschoolers got to visit with Bill “Santa” Read. Bill came down from his home in Coupeville on both Thursday and Friday, even though he had no power at home.

On Saturday, he spent his entire day with children at Safeway in Oak Harbor. Bill does this each year because he loves children, and it provides a vehicle to raise money to feed the hungry. He does it to honor his late wife, Cheryl, and to honor his God.

Bill starts growing that beard in the Summer. It is hot and uncomfortable. He purchased his own Santa suit.

On Christmas day, Bill was airlifted from Coupeville to Providence Hospital in Everett. I joined his family at his bedside. Bill did not make it. Bill died on Christmas with his Santa beard intact. Bill went home for Christmas to be with his dear Cheryl. Their first Christmas together since 2011.

There are 365 days in the year. What are the odds that our Santa would die on Christmas?

Bill was the best we had at TLC. He sang and played for the choir. He cooked for the men’s breakfast, his home was always open to everyone in the parish, he was the reason that we have a Valentine’s Day Dinner.

Bill “Santa” Read died on Christmas. To quote Luther, “as a matter of faith I can accept this, as a matter of the flesh I am most crushed.”

Through my tears this morning I am giving thanks for Bill and I am shaking my fist to heaven.

I pray that this dark season of grief will give way to dancing and laughter.

In love,