I wasn’t quite sure what to call today’s post. And, I want to caution you that I do not mean it to be melancholy or sad. Truly these are happy memories for me and I am thankful to have them. I have been touched this week by too many friends who have lost loved ones at this bright beautiful time of year. My Grandma Fern died in early December several years ago after suffering a stroke right before Thanksgiving. Grandma loved Christmas more than anything. She never lost the zeal for decorating, going to concerts, sending cards (her’s were always some of the first sent out). She shopped year round and was thoughtful about the gifts she purchased for all of us. She loved the “in-law” grandchildren as her own. Greg was absorbed into our family and gatherings before we were married. Grandma’s tree went up the day after Thanksgiving and didn’t come down until the New Year.
I was close to Grandma. She and Grandpa helped us out a lot when my parents divorced. They made sure I got to piano lessons, choir concerts, church functions and delivered keys to the car when I had locked mine inside in the school parking lot. I wasn’t supposed to have driven there considering I lived across the street. I think of Grandma and Grandpa frequently year round. But Christmas time comes and she is everywhere in my mind. I have many of her decorations in my house, I have some of her music on my piano, I still use gifts she and Grandpa gave me. As you can tell from previous posts, I still use her recipes ( I have one more to post) and they are an important part of our family tradition that is continuing with her GREAT grandchildren. I know she would be so proud of Sarah and Hannah and the young ladies they are becoming. As I feel and pray for friends who are experiencing the fresh pain of grief at the loss of a loved one, I can’t help but think of Grandma even more.
One of my favorite memories is Beth (my sister), Mom, Grandma and I performing a version of Silent Night at church together. I don’t remember the arrangement and only vaguely remember how we did it, but to have us all making music together – three generations with such a beautiful song. Yes a few tears come to my eyes. Grandma loved to play the piano and I loved to sing along. Many memories are of sitting in her front room singing and playing together.
I also have fond Christmas memories of my Grandma Nadine (dad’s mom). I don’t know that she loved Christmas in the same way Grandma Fern did, but she definitely loved Beth and I. Without a doubt, we were spoiled every year. A couple weeks ago, Greg and I were rearranging my office and found a picture of Grandma and I together on the piano bench. Grandma had arranged with Fort Hamilton Hughes Hospital for me to be the background music at the employees’ holiday dinner. The newsletter photographer had Grandma sit down beside me for a picture. It turned out so great, he had a 8X10 printed of it. Even though it is in black and white, I remember the outfit well. My dress was an electric blue jersey dress that swirled around my legs when I walked. The over-sized scarf that went over one shoulder was pink, purple, blue paisley (it was the 80s folks) and came from The Limited. That is the only thing I have ever owned from The Limited and I thought I was hot stuff with it.Grandma bought that outfit for me and I wore it for years.
We went to Grandma Nadine’s house every Christmas Eve after candlelight service at Church. We would watch for Santa in the sky on the way. And, occasionally, surprise! he would show up there while we were there. Grandma was always good for getting us the things mom really didn’t want us to have – messy things:) Grandma Nadine had traditional foods too – her recipes are forthcoming as well – ham salad, vermouth dip, and – though she didn’t make these – she always had those peppermint nougats with the Christmas trees in the middle – I love those.
Grandma also had the decorations Beth and I most loved to mess with. I now have her ceramic tree in my office – oh how we tortured her by messing with the lightbulbs. And, she had these rubbery cling things that stuck to the refrigerator of Santa and the reindeer. We loved to move them and rearrange them. It’s a good thing she really loved us – I suspect we had some brat moments.
I have shed some tears this morning as I listen to Christmas music, pray for my friends who are hurting and write this post. I’m sorry this one is pretty wordy but I needed to clear my mind and spirit and share with you how important my Grandparents were to my Christmas memories. I’m sure they had no idea what impact they were having on me, but it has been a lasting impression that I will cherish always and never forget. What is neat is that I know my children are also blessed to have living and active grandparents. My children already have things they anticipate about the holidays with each side of the family and are developing their own memories to treasure as well.
In the picture below – Christmas 2004. Grandma Fern is in the red sweater at the back of the photo.