The holidays this year were difficult with the absence of my grandmother, who passed to a better place last January. She and grandpa had a way of making every holiday special with their humor and special love of life. When I was growing up, my parents and brothers, aunts, uncles and cousins, would gather at grandpa and grandma’s house for Thanksgiving weekends. As an adult, I was given the gift of spending many Christmas eves with my grandparents. This year on Christmas eve, I felt the grief of that first Christmas without a beloved family member, but also shared in the joy of spending Christmas Eve and Christmas with Don, family and friends.

My grandmother had a special way of giving memorable gifts. For many, many years, my grandmother gave me turtlenecks, all a different color each Christmas. I could never figure out how to tell my grandmother I didn’t like turtlenecks, that all those beautiful tops lived unworn in my top dresser drawer, until one year it all came out while were were shopping in a local clothing store.

She headed straight for the turtleneck display, and then pulled one off the shelf and held it up. “Honey, don’t you think this turtleneck is pretty?”

Right then and there, I faced my dilemma- I could lie and tell her yes, or I could tell her my truth about turtlenecks. I knew from experience that grandmother had a way of uncovering every lie I ever tried to tell.

“Grandma, it is a pretty color,” I said. “But, I don’t really like turtlenecks.”

She shot me a casual glance. “Oh. I didn’t know that.”

Needless to say, Grandma never gave me another turtleneck again. But, she knew I loved tea and never hesitated to include a box with my crew cut tops and other essential items, like dish towels.

My grandmother was a wonderful writer who self published her book of poetry Memories On Wings about a year before she died. She always said writing was how she taught others about God, but I also believe it was her way of sharing her great compassion and love for others. One of her poems in her book is titled Christmas:

Christmas is fast approaching,
What are your thoughts today,
Will you have an old fashioned Christmas,
With presents and love to give away?
Will you invite the needy one
Who has nowhere to go,
Or invite the proud and rich,
And forget your love to show?
What really is the meaning of Christmas,
But to do good to your fellow man.
Share what you have with the needy one
And love them while you can.

I hope your holiday season was alive with family and friends and filled with love and compassion for all mankind.
(c) 2006 by Susan Littlefield