Saturday, November 29, 2008
The Gift of Grandparents
"over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house we go": a traditional for Christmas.
When I was a little girl, this is the house my maternal grandparents lived in. This is where most of my Christmas traditions begin. (This is what it looks like today through the magic of technology.) As it was nearby to the laundry and dry cleaning plant that my grandfather owned and my father, his son-in-law managed, we spent most of my early Christmas vacations living with my grandparents.
Santa brought my toys here and it is here that we trimmed the tree, baked the cookies, enjoyed the decorations and ate our roast beef Christmas dinner. When I dream about past Christmas times long ago, this is the setting. Isn't it a beautiful house?
As a child living with many grownups, I remember sitting on the landing and listening to the joke presents of the grownups. They drew a name at the Thanksgiving dinner table and won the right to pick on that person with a gift and a poem. My grandmother cheated one year and made sure she got her sister as she had already bought the gift. I was sworn to secrecy. It was great fun and they never found out I listened. We don't carry on this tradition and I have no photos of the event except in the deepest part of my memories. Every family should have a time to pick on each other and laugh about it.
Grandpa indulged my every whim. He was very sick and I understood he didn't have long to live. He bought me my first book, the Audubon Bird Guide, as he and I sat for hours watching the bird feeders. It was my birthday gift when I was two years old.
Grandma lived a very long time. She was a great hostess, had all her friends over for a big Christmas tea (I hid under the piano and watched the ladies) and probably bought, wrapped and hid most of my gifts as she drove and my mother did not. My grandparents are my favorite holiday tradition.
I think about their traditions of family, especially now that I am to be a grandmother. I've got until June to get ready and a lot to live up to.