My grandmother, Elsie Jenkins, died twenty years ago at the age of 102. She inspired much of what I do today. She was my biggest cheerleader and a woman to be admired. In my mind as a grandchild, she was such an elegant lady. Always having fun, and always willing to make a joke. She was born in a log cabin, in Baker city, in the 1800s. Life was not necessarily easy for her, but she had a good life and loved her family!
My mother, Jacque, died the year after my grandmother. She believed in me, set the bar high, and was always disappointed when I didn’t do my best. My mother was a woman of force. Always on the move, and always doing something for someone else. And when she got the most done was after we all went to bed.
When I think of Christmases past, these two women make up the majority of my memories. Our family was loud, probably a little obnoxious, but we enjoyed our time together.
Christmas isn’t what it once was, when Grandma and Mom were here, and will never be again. Christmases then were filled with laughter and the aroma of special foods only they could make. There was the turkey, cranberry sauce, angel food cake, caramel, rice stuffing, taffy, rolls and a pie or two, just in case there wasn’t enough. Of course, we probably would have been a bit healthier if there would’ve been a little less joy, a little less food, and a little less festivity. But what memories!
I remember the smell of the fresh tree we always got and how we would mindfully lay the tinsel in just the right spot. I remember lighting the advent candle, pulling taffy, Christmas Eve church service, waking up to stockings and goodies for everyone, and all of us enjoying family time together. There were always presents, yet my memories of Christmases past are not of the presents, only the people who are no longer here. Year after year, my grandmother and mother gave their all so we would have a special Christmas day and season. It’s their love and actions that I remember and miss the most.
I will enjoy this Christmas and all the ones to come more because of my Grandma and Mom. I have grandchildren, children who make me proud, and a wife who is better than I deserve. My wife always creates a beautiful, festive environment with a delicious feast for all of us to celebrate. In ten years I will not remember the gift my wife buys me this year, but I will remember her love and actions to make this holiday special for all of us.
So when the holidays come, enjoy your family and the time you spend together because this is the best gift and, most likely, the one you will remember in years to come.