“I love Christmas Eve! I love the music and the food and I love that Gram wears her festive snowflake earrings!” I can’t remember how old I was when I said this. Maybe a pre teen, maybe a young teenager. I know it was a long time ago. I know I found out after I said it that my Gram had bought new earrings that year. She hadn’t planned to wear the snowflake earrings. I know when I arrived at her house on Christmas Eve, she was wearing them anyway.
That’s the kind of person my Gram was. She liked making people happy, especially her family. She was always doing little things to show it. Her house was always warm and welcoming and full of treats. Her face lit up when any of her ten grandchildren walked in the door. If any of those grandchildren got up early enough to go to Sunday mass with her, she took them out to breakfast afterward. She bought me the first ornaments I put on my tree when I moved into my own place. She brought Twizzlers, my favorite childhood candy, to the hospital after I gave birth to my son.
I have my list of special things she did for me and so does every other person she loved. If she loved you, you surely knew it. My Gram didn’t have much in the way of wealth. She raised five children in a house with two bedrooms. She lost her husband when he was only sixty. She suffered through cancer, diabetes and heart issues. But, she was giving. She was joyful. She was strong. She didn’t complain. She enjoyed what she had. She gave to others.
One of the most precious gifts she gave was to my father. When she had little money, she bought him his first guitar and paid for lessons. This changed life in many ways for many people. When my Dad plays the guitar, it makes people happy and it is another example of my Gram’s goodness shining through. She was his biggest fan. She was mine too. When I sang for her, it was a little bit of thanks for the music she put in my life by buying my dad that guitar so many years ago. She always listened with joy.
It didn’t take much to make her happy. She loved music. She loved the Phillies. She loved reading. She loved her family. She loved Christmas. She was even born in December so her birthday parties were always holiday celebrations too. This is our first December without her.
I was given the snowflake earrings a few days after she passed away last July. I don’t want to wear them. It’s not that I don’t love them. It’s that I want to see them on my Gram on Christmas Eve. I want to see her smile and hear her sing her favorite Christmas carols off key. I want to watch her laugh at her great grandchildren. I want to watch as she opens each gift with a delight you would only expect from children.
I will miss her so much this Christmas. Enough to wear the snowflake earrings. Even though it will mean she really won’t be there to wear them herself. I will think about the twenty plus years she wore them just to make me happy. And all the little things she did to show her love to the people around her. And how I need to work on being a lot more like her.
I will spend Christmas Eve with all the people who loved her most. We will remember all the good she brought to this world. We will try to be like her. We will not complain. We will be happy with what we have. Thanks to her, we have an awful lot. And though I will never quite rock them the way she did, I will have a festive pair of earrings to wear to the party.
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