Last month my mom told me she’s ready to go back to her Scandinavian Christmas tree. When I was much younger she had a Scandinavian themed tree but about ten years ago she went to a different kind of theme with “bubble gum” lights and lots of shiny ornaments.
We sat down at her computer so she could show me pictures of all the Christmas ornaments she plans on making for her tree. I made about 6 or 7 of these Santa tomtes with my mom for my tree this year – which is Scandinavian actually, but mostly because I bought my ornaments at IKEA last year. But I love my homemade tomtes.
Anyway, as we clicked through dozens of websites with crafts, fabrics and other ornaments Mom started talking about her mother and the things Grandma would make when she was little. Mom said a lot of the stuff we were looking at was just like it. I don’t think my mom noticed, but I had to wipe away a few tears as a wave of nostalgia came over me and I suddenly missed my Grandma Christensen.
Grandma died nine years ago of ovarian cancer. She was fairly young. I miss her all the time.
I think about my Grandma a lot, especially at Christmastime, since every Christmas Eve was spent at her house. We always had a Christmas program and every year it was a tradition to beg Grandma to sing “Baby it’s Cold Outside” with my Grandpa. She had to tear herself away from whatever was keeping her busy in the kitchen, but she always gave in (that's my mom playing the piano and her bridal picture on the piano).
I had the honor of speaking at Grandma's funeral, and this is one of the memories I shared:
One thing about Grandma was that everything in her house had its place and she knew where everything was at all times. When I was very little, my brother and sister and I were staying at Grandma and Grandpa’s house while our parents were on vacation. Grandma took me into Uncle Tony’s old room to show me a flashlight that she thought I might like to see. She took me to the desk, pulled open the drawer and pulled out the flashlight. Because it was made with clear plastic, I could see the batteries inside. The batteries were blue with pictures of snowmen printed on them. I loved the flashlight and immediately imagined how fun it would be to play with it in the dark when everyone else was asleep. So later that day when she was in the kitchen I took it out of its drawer, brought it into the TV room where I’d be sleeping later and hid it in my sleeping bag.
That night, Grandma came to tuck us in. She felt something at the bottom of my sleeping bag and asked me what it was. I told her I didn’t know and she said goodnight and went to bed. Unfortunately, I ended up sleeping straight through the night so my plans of playing with the snowman flashlight in the dark never happened. When I woke up, I remembered I had the flashlight in there and thought I better replace it before Grandma was up. I felt for it at the bottom of my sleeping bag. It was gone! I panicked as I got up and turned my sleeping bag upside down; shaking it in hopes the flashlight would fall out. It wasn’t there. I froze for a few moments for fear of what likely happened. I tiptoed past Grandma and Grandpa’s bedroom and into the room with the desk where she kept it and opened the drawer to find the flashlight back in its proper place exactly where she left it before. I learned at an early age there was no fooling Grandma.
Sometimes I feel bad for my younger cousins because they didn’t get to experience Christmas at Grandma and Grandpa’s house like I did. But then again, I’m sure their Christmases are just as special to them as mine were to me. I just hope my kids get to spend many, many Christmases with their grandparents.
Last night when I climbed into bed I closed my eyes and tried to remember what Grandma's hugs felt like. And I realized they kind of felt like my mom's hugs. And that made me happy.