On this Christmas Day, I cannot help but think back to years past when we would have dinner at my childhood home with my grandparents: my paternal grandmother and my maternal grandmother and grandfather.
In years past, my paternal and maternal grandparents would come to the house and have Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. Since my paternal grandmother lived down the road from us, we would have her over for birthday dinners, too.
My Paternal Grandmother
For the early part of my life, my grandmother would drive to our house in her car and stay into the night. She would also come over to our house sometimes for surprise visits when she was out running errands. We also had a standing “date” on Wednesdays during the summer where we would go out to lunch: my sister, my grandmother, and I.
On those days, we would always have so much fun. My grandmother kept her banking until a Wednesday so we could tag along. As a kid, I always loved going to the bank with her, observing as she did her banking. After the banking, we would go to lunch. This was around the time that Friendlys was still in our town. So, we always chose between that, Panera, or Wendys. After lunch, if we had time, we would go back to our grandmother’s house and stay for the afternoon until it was time for us to go home.
As the years have passed, my grandmother has stopped driving. She has stopped doing her own errands. She has stayed in her house more and more. It has been a few years since she has started staying home more and more, so I guess I should be used to it by now, but I cannot help but miss the things that we did years ago.
Today, Christmas Day 2018, we had my grandmother over for dinner and gift exchanging. When she came in, she required the help of my mother, father, and uncle to get into the house as we have steps in both the front and back of our house.
As I was watching her come up the stairs with her walker, I envisioned times of when she had a cane, and even when she was walking without any assistance at all.as my grandmother grows older, she keeps having challenges that she has to go through and it brings back memories of times when she didn’t have them; of when we went out to lunch together. . . when she was more independent and able to see us more often. I always loved when she would “drop-in” as she called it. It was always a pleasant surprise!
My Maternal Grandparents
For the first part of my life, my maternal grandparents lived in Concord, New Hampshire. Every year, the day after Christmas, we would have two Christmases: the first at our house and then we would travel three hours to New Hampshire to have a second Christmas.
For the first few years of our lives, my grandparents were in one house and a few years later, they moved into the house next door (it was a duplex).
When my grandparents moved into the new house, my sister and I would sleep in the sunroom and my parents would sleep on the second floor.
As the years went by, my grandparents did what every child and grandchild dreads of their parents: they grew older. With the age came some hazards, like falling more often.
My grandmother fell on some ice when she was coming out of the house one winter, and that was when they decided that they had had enough of the winters in the northeast and wanted to move. They put their house on the market, packed up their bags, and moved to Arizona—specifically Cottonwood, Arizona.
In the winter of 2009, my parents gifted my maternal grandparents with a two-week vacation in Arizona. They went there for two weeks and came back loving it.
My grandparents loved their time in Arizona so much that they wanted to go back again the year after. So, they did. And again. And again. For the next three to four years they would return to the sunny west coast every Christmas. After returning it to New Hampshire, they would regale us of their adventures in Arizona. One year, though, they came back and told us that they were looking for a house down there and wanted to sell their house in New Hampshire.
At the beginning of the house selling/hunting process, I wasn’t keen on my grandparents moving houses, as I had grown very fond of 98 and 100 over the years that they lived there. Even as I type this blog post, I can hear the pitter patter of the raindrops on the tin roof of the sunroom roof at 100 N. State.
As a young boy, I didn’t really understand what was going on; I just knew that my family was going to be even further away from me than they already were and I didn’t like that. I didn’t want them to move. Yes, I know that was selfish of me, but I didn’t realize the gravity of the situation back then—I do now, though.
As the years go by…
Many years ago, she told me that I would miss little things like this . . . that I would look back on these moments, think that, and then have the thought of “she [my maternal grandmother] was right.” Well, she was right. I do miss those little moments. Some days, I wish I had them back.
So many changes have happened over the years. Although so many things have changed, and I cannot help but wish I had done things differently growing up, I’m thankful that they are still in my life—that they are still with us to have meals with and get together with every year.
As I keep telling myself: Tomorrow is a new day. The sunset brings a close to whatever happened the day before and the sunrise brings forth a new day; a chance for a change.
With 2018 drawing to a close and 2019 just around the corner, I am thankful for the memories that I have and am looking forward to making many more in 2019. I strive to do things differently; to make sure that my loved ones know that I love them. Please, if you are close to yours, don’t take them for granted.