Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas at Grandma's

I have many memories of Christmas at my Grandma's house but the one I treasure most is to hear her read the story of the birth of Jesus.  As has always been tradition at her house, before a present is passed out, those familiar verses are shared from the Bible.  It was Grandma's way of reminding even the smallest of children that the season is not about what's inside wrapped boxes under the tree.

There are so many vivid pictures in my mind of her wrinkled hands holding her Bible, glasses perched on her nose, and her sweet voice reciting the story and ending in prayer.  The room would always pause in a hush as we listened to each verse and would be filled with His presence, the greatest gift that could ever be given.

I'm so grateful for those memories because yesterday tradition changed.  Grandma is in her 80s and the effects of age  are visibly wearing her.  Her walk is slower and more cautious and her vision slowly fading with each passing year.  While I'm sure she could probably share that story from memory, she feared her eyes would fail her when it came time to read.  In a moment, the baton was passed to her only daughter, as she was asked to read the story for her.  I think it surprised everyone in the room, including my Aunt Becky, but we held back our emotions and carried on.  Perhaps it was Grandma's way of ensuring that this practice continues for years to come.

In losing Austin, so suddenly and unexpected, I am more appreciative now of every moment with those I love.  Life is short, whether you are here a few years or many decades.  While we had no idea 2007 would be our last Christmas with Austin, none of us really ever know what holiday will be the last with someone we love.  Knowing Grandma's age, it is evident that we have more Christmas memories with her than we'll make in the future.  And because of that knowledge, I treasured each moment by her side yesterday. 

Simple moments, from hugging her small frame both when I arrived and when we left, to sitting beside her on the couch and remembering so many years of doing just the same.  And while it was a bittersweet moment to see Grandma pass her Bible down, I have joy in the memories of so many Christmases past....and joy in being there to see tradition passed down to the next generation.


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