Christmas as a grandmother of ten changed everything for me.
Remembering how my grandparents put so much thought and festivity into Christmas Eve for us six kids and our cousins, an evening we looked forward to every year, stirs me to be a memory maker as my grandfather and grandmother were, to intentionally leave behind indelible Christmas card moments in the minds of our grandchildren.
Maybe our grandchildren watching a Hallmark movie might remind them of the lovely decoration creations that Gaga breathed holiday life into her house with.
Maybe the old fashioned Christmas tree and specially wrapped gifts all stacked by the warm fireplace, waiting for anxious good little boys and girls to open might re-create a Norman Rockwell painting in their memories.
Maybe the Christmas table’s wintery themed centerpieces and place settings for everyone might remind them to always give thanks for those family members and friends sitting beside them for dinner.
For me as a grandparent, it’s my inner child’s delight to unwrap the gift of our grandchildren’s excitement through every planned and unplanned moment of our Christmas gathering. I pray the next generation of grandparent’s experience the same holiday joy with their grandchildren as that last two generations have. I pray I am honoring my grandparent’s legacy as I pass onto my grandchildren those Christmas memories they so generously gave to me.
Christmas Eve at my grandparents wasn’t the themed Christmas’ of today, yet holidays with them was every bit as memorable.
My grandparent’s tree was simple with its homemade ornaments and star, yet lacking in luster minus the sparkle of twinkling lights we use today, as the heavier miniature bulbs were popular in their day. I lavish though the ornaments that were passed to me from my grandmother’s tree, thinking of her just the other day when I decorated my own tree with a few of her treasures.
My grandparent’s cardboard fireplace set up in the basement corner looked authentic to a young girl as the plastic Santa sleigh and his reindeer did. I never told grandma, but I looked forward to seeing that fireplace every year, as we didn’t have one at home.
Grandma’s tables were accentuated and lit with holiday candles, which permeated the air with a Christmas fragrance of evergreen.
Stacked by the fake fireplace were all of grandma’s gifts, each wrapped and topped with a pretty bow. Every grandchild snooped and found the package that bore their name in the stack. With “ants in their pants” they counted the seconds until present time.
Christmas at my grandparent’s house was not the extravaganza of Christmas’ today. But Christmas at my grandparents nevertheless etched in my heart these framed moments I can see with clarity and enjoy today.
I remember all those rounds of pool with my cousins using the “kiddy pool table” that grandpa let us destroy over the years, while keeping the adult one hidden and covered.
Grandpa wowed and impressed us every year with the unveiling of his newest inventions awaiting a patent. Grandpa was super ingenious and had an infectious laugh.
Grandma kept our appetites satisfied before dinner with appetizers of meatballs and assortments of cheeses and crackers.
Once the dinner bell rang, I can still see Grandma Bertie going up and down the stairs to set the table with her famous roast and side items that completed our dinner. I sure missed her meals when Christmas Eve dinner became too much for grandma to prepare.
But my sweetest memory of Christmas at my grandmothers, was finding the table of her homemade Christmas cookies and peanut butter balls. I stuffed my mouth all night long full of her confections. The plate of cookies was as round as the table. Grandma had to have baked for days to fill that plate.
When my grandparents passed away, we adult kids were allowed to go through their house and take whatever items remained of their life. I was blessed to inherit my grandmother’s cookbook full of holiday cookie recipes. That sad day I secretly asked my aunt if anyone had taken grandma’s beaded two-layered table cloth sewn by my great aunt and crystal plate, both which decorated my grandmother’s cookie table every Christmas Eve.
Aunt Bonnie took me to a closet where this “Christmas Gift of Old” hung in quiet silence, hidden probably for years from that final Christmas Eve my grandmother hosted. My aunt was more than proud to say I could have this coveted memory.
Oh the years as I child I admired the intricate time consuming detail of this table cloth while eating my grandmother’s cookies. Now, as an adult, I still admire the time my great aunt gave to making this tablecloth, the inheritance that now covers a table during my holidays. I even serve my Christmas cookies on the same plate my grandmother did, taking me back to the days when Christmas was simpler, yet whose wonderful memories have stood the test of time.
I miss my grandparents and times spent with them as a child at their house on Christmas Eve.
It’s funny how so much energy and money is spent on Christmas gifts that most, including myself, can’t remember what we give or get from year to year.
But I’ve never forgotten my grandmother’s ornaments or cookie table cloth
and plate inherited all those years ago,
invaluable gifts from a woman who has no idea how much I appreciate, the holiday gifts given in her honor,
My Christmas Gift of Old.