It’s that time of year again. Is it just me, or does it feel like that “time” comes quicker every year? I love the traditions of the season, the memories and the gathering of family. While I was sitting down making lists of everyone’s favorite foods, I realize the recipes for those dishes have been passed down from generation to generation. If I remember correctly, the stuffing recipe was my great grandmothers.
I have grandchildren of my own now, but the other day the phone rang, and my daughter-in-law said the kids were asking her to make sure she made stuffing just like grandmas. It warmed my heart and, at the same time, got me thinking. My grandchildren obviously never met my great grandmother, but they love some of what she left behind. I can think of so many other things I learned from her. Patience; this too shall pass. It will all work out in the end. That one, in particular, drove me crazy when I was younger, but now I hear myself saying the exact same thing to my grandchildren. And I can personally attest to the fact no truer words were ever spoken.
I had four sons. Yes, you heard that right, all boys. Many years ago a friend of my aunt was visiting from Switzerland. She spoke perfect English, and when she heard I had four sons she said (her words, not mine), “God only sends all boys to special women.” I was so tempted to ask for her definition of the word “special”, but for once in my life, I thought before I spoke.
I now have three granddaughters and three grandsons. I am truly blessed. I can personally assure you the 43-year wait for little girls in our family was worth it, no matter how long it took. One day years ago I was completely frustrated. It seemed like my husband, Andrew, was either not listening to me, or forgetting everything I said on purpose. I lovingly asked (maybe yelled), “You forget everything I tell you! I can’t believe that you remember to come home every night!” He never skipped a beat, and answered, “That’s because you feed me.” We both had a good laugh.
Laughter is one of the most important things in a marriage. It feeds the soul, and stuffs the heart with love, and not a with turkey this time. There I go again passing down advice from generations past, but this one is golden. My mother-in-law used to tell me, “If you could teach people how to laugh like you and my son do instead of arguing, you could save a lot of marriages.”
My grandmother understood the importance of the matriarch in all families. They hold the golden key next to their heart that locks the door keeping the cohesiveness in their family. There was so much wisdom she shared unconditionally. While I was setting the table, and making sure that everybody coming had a special place waiting for them, I started to remember some of the people that won’t be joining us anymore. Death silently creeps in unannounced and permanently removes loved ones.
A friend hearing that a distant family member of hers passed away shared in a whisper, “What a bad time to have to go to a funeral.” I politely smiled, and wondered if there ever was a good time to go to a funeral? I realize it’s only your physical body but the love you shared will be ours for all eternity! I believe with all of my heart remembering them keeps a piece of them alive. I only wish that knowing that could fill the hole and subside the ache I feel in my heart.
We have all lost loved ones at some point in our lives so this year I decided instead of allowing it to be the white elephant in the room I had a plan. This year before we go around the table, and tell everybody what we’re thankful for, I was going to ask them to raise their glasses while I proposed a toast. Here’s what I would say, “We raise our glasses in remembrance of all the loved ones that are no longer with us. We are thankful for all the love they gave and the memories we all share of them.” After careful consideration, I decided to make it a little more general by including all of our past loved ones.
I was hoping to do it in a way that we wouldn’t all start crying. And unlike some of my other great ideas, this one worked perfectly. There may have been a few misty eyes, but the smiles made up for any sadness. Here’s my take on this. My grandmother learned how to be the very best grandma from her grandmother who I never had the pleasure of meeting in person. I got the true sense of exactly who she was by all of the wonderful attributes she left with my grandmother who has now left them with me.
With my words, I decided I was going to bring to life many of the treasures that I learned from my grandmother. The importance of listening to little ones. Remembering what you buy them may be very appreciated, it is not what your grandchildren really need from you. I would even go one step further and say it’s not really what they want. If the truth be told, what they really want is you: your time, your attention and your love.
Regardless of how big the budget is to purchase gifts, all of those I just mentioned are free. It never runs out of stock or gets outgrown. All those gifts require is your willingness to share them with the next generation. They will probably not remember the majority of what you ever bought them, but I guarantee each and every one of them will remember the relationship that you had. Your time is priceless. Investing your time caring about the little things costs nothing. Well, no money anyway.
The world tries to tell us that what we earn per hour is what you’re worth: don’t believe it. I want to thank all of you for taking the time to read my words. I wish you and your family a very, very happy holiday season.