12 Days of Christmas Memories: Grandparents

Grandpa as Santa, Christmas 1984
My Grandpa Byron as Santa, Christmas 1984

My constant source of Christmas happiness came from my grandparents’ home.

As a child of divorce, Christmas often came with feelings of sorrow.  Holiday celebrations were divided between several different places and often felt chaotic and stressful.

But the celebration at Grandpa and Grandma’s house was a constant over the years, a source of happiness and contentment.  A guarantee of good times.

I remember the food.  A glorious spread of ham sandwiches or roast beef with horseradish, cheesy potatoes, green beans canned from the summer garden, homemade pickles, and requisite sweets.  Grandma always made soft iced butter cookies, walnut wedding cakes rolled in powdered sugar, and Mississippi Mud chocolate sheet cake.   I couldn’t wait for those sweet treats.

I remember the presents.  Grandpa and Grandma were talented gift-givers.  They asked for ideas all year long and included extra surprises in our Santa Bags.  The year I turned ten, I remember getting the pair of shoes I’d chosen from the Sears catalog, camel brown low pumps with a twisted leather detail.  I felt so grown up receiving my first pair of heels.  My Santa Bag also contained jewelry, lip balm, gloves, pencils, candy, and fruit.  Gifts from my grandparents were personal and fun.

I remember the fellowship.  In my early years I remember playing with my gifts and listening to my dad chat with my aunts and uncles.  They were all children of divorce too.  They seemed to deeply value their times together and taught me the importance of family.  Christmas was their time to reconnect, and I loved listening to their stories and laughing with them.

When I was a teenager Grandpa and Grandma moved to the family farm where we continued Christmas traditions and started new ones.  We simplified the gift-exchange process with a game called the Wright Family Christmas—perhaps you have played something like it in your family gatherings.  Upon hearing “right” or “left” in a story, you pass your gift to the next person.  The exchange became bigger as more babies were born, and also more fun.  Laughter is a guarantee during our family games.

Grandpa and Grandma continued the Santa Bags as long as they held their celebrations.  My husband could always count on finding a pair of work gloves and a shaker of seasoned salt in his bag.  I received kitchen items and Ferrero Rocher candy, which Grandma knew I would hide away from my children.  They received all kinds of goodies in their bags:  toys, puzzles, games, gloves, snacks, and of course, more candy.  You don’t leave their house without something sweet to eat.

My grandparents worked hard to provide a happy Christmas celebration for their children and grandchildren.  They worked part-time jobs after retiring just to buy items for the Santa Bags.  They spent weeks baking cookies and wrapping gifts.  I love Christmas celebrations because of their example.  They gave selflessly and joyfully, desiring fun memories with their loved ones.

Because my grandparents worked so hard to provide happy Christmases for me, I will always be grateful, and I try to follow their example in my own family now.

What are memories of Christmas include your grandparents?  Did they set a good example for you?

Blessings to you,  Sarah

P.S. Today is Day 1 of 12 Days of Reader Tips for Christmas Peace.  Be sure to leave a comment on my related Facebook post with your tip!


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