The Internet is a wonderful thing. I subscribe to Google Alerts for several things, including genealogy. One of the posts listed today was George Morgan’s comment on Steve’s Genealogy Blog about “Visiting Mom’s Grave.” Steve’s original post was in response to Destination: Austin Family blog post: “Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories.” I marvel at how one thing leads to another on the Internet, though it does make me wonder about developing an attention disorder.
The various posts got me thinking about Christmas memories and what a poor job of recording them I have done. Like many genealogists, I sometimes feel like I know my long-deceased ancestors better than some of my living relatives. Further, too many of us aren’t doing enough to record our own lives so that our descendants can know more about us than just our names.
Like George and Steve, I also lost a loved one at Christmas. My Grandma Johnson died December 22, 1979 — 28 years ago today. She was the only grandma I had, and I loved her dearly. A week before she died, I was supposed to go to her house to spend the night, but I woke up that morning with a fever and had to stay home. Later that afternoon, she had a heart attack. (I sometimes wonder what I would have done as a 13-year-old if I had been there when that happened.) She was rushed to the hospital and never returned to her home.
Christmas was the one time a year when my family would get together with my aunts and uncles and cousins. My grandparents had 14 grandchildren — I was the youngest. All of us would pack into Grandma’s tiny house. To this day, I don’t know how we all fit!
Oh the memories of those Christmases. I remember the thermostat was directly across from the back door. Every time someone came in, a blast of cold air would hit it and the furnace would kick on. To keep from roasting, my Dad would set the thermostat for about 40 degrees It’s funny what you remember.
Grandma loved to decorate. One time she brought out some Christmas candles only to find they had warped in storage. Not a problem. She put them on a cookie sheet and placed them in a low oven — get them soft, and then you can straighten them out. It works like a charm… provided you remember to take them out of the oven before they completely melt.
Every year, Grandma would make all of us something. My two favorite things were a beanbag frog with button eyes and, the year before she died, a long rolled pillow with tassels on the ends. I still have both.
The year she died, things seemed very empty. Christmas afternoon came and none of us knew what to do; we had always gone to her house.
Christmas was Grandma’s favorite time of year. Maybe that’s one reason why I sometimes get a little teary listening to some Christmas songs. After 28 years, I still miss her.