This time of year, I miss my grandmother. She started so many traditions in our family. I’ve tried and tried to recreate her Thanksgiving. I don’t cook like she did, so that can’t happen. I don’t have fourteen grandchildren to lead up a ridge on a hike, so I take a walk around my neighborhood. Most of all, I don’t have her to talk to. But I think about her, and I try to be as loving as she was. As nurturing.
Because getting to know my maternal grandmother after I was ten, and my parents split up was a life-changing experience.
This week, Melinda Curtis and Anna J. Stewart and I are releasing Christmas, Actually, an anthology of holiday stories we set in Christmas Town, Maine.
Our stories are about three siblings who are having a Christmas that alters their lives forever. They have a family tradition that concerns a secret Santa. I love Secret Santa gifts because they require some thinking and concern. Santa’s secret gift for the Banning siblings is a hint they must decipher to receive their real gift. I can’t remember which of us thought of that as we were plotting, but it was a great idea.
My grandmother had a Christmas tradition. Every year, my mom and her four siblings exchanged names on Thanksgiving, and one family bought gifts for another.
On Christmas Eve, we all gathered at Grandma’s. We’d crowd in, each waiting for all the cousins to arrive so the festivities could begin. Grandpa, who had a sweet tooth, had chocolates and nuts sprinkled around the house, and that one night in the year, we could have as many as we wanted. The tree glittered. The food was delish. The presents were stacked in mysterious shapes beneath the tree.
But there were fourteen gifts that came in exactly the same shape. Every year, my grandmother covered a shoebox for all of my cousins and brothers and me, and she shopped for small gifts for each of us all year long. Each gift was filled with her love for each of us, and I still like to think of her in a shop, thinking of one of us as a trinket caught her eye. One year I had a tiny pink tea set. Sometimes there would be clothes for my Barbie, or a Hot Wheels car. Always, she included a book for me.
That’s a tradition I wish I’d kept with my family. What did you look forward to most at Christmas with your family?
Since Christmas, Actually was just released, we're leaping with holiday spirit here, so commenters on our blog from today, , , and will be in the running to win a Christmas ornament (shown in this post). Comment each day for your chance to win.