Monday, November 19, 2018

Trees and trains

Last year we stopped by to visit Grandpa Frank on Boxing Day (that's the day after Christmas for anyone not in the know) and he showed the kids his Christmas train, which was the only Christmas decoration he had up. He loves that thing. He let the kids press the buttons on it to make Santa say, "Ho! Ho! Ho!" or "All aboard!" and things like that.

It was fun, but his voice got a faraway quality as he told us about his Christmas traditions since Grandma Sharon passed away. Christmas was always her thing, you see. She put up the tree, she put out the garland, she dug out the recordings of Christmas music.

So I came home and I wrote this poem (of sorts):

Looking ahead
“I don’t put a tree up these days,”
The old man said. 

“Yeah, I just do the train.
She always did the tree. 
I always did the train.
So now there’s no tree.” 

And I wonder if, one day,
When my grandkids
Bring their kids
To visit me

Will there only be a train?
Will there only be a tree?

Last night (was it really just last night? days are seeming like a million years long these days) the kids (Andrew, Katharine, Emily, and Jacob) dug out Karen's Christmas boxes all 20 (or so) of them—and we went through the contents. Reid insists he has no plans to decorate spectacularly for the holidays—Christmas was always her thing, you see—but this way we'll all be able to have a little bit of Grandma around for Christmas.

"The angel quilt," Emily said, holding up a lap quilt.

"I want that!" Jacob said eagerly. "I've always loved that quilt."

"Let's not say, 'I want,'" Grandpa instructed. "Just say you're interested."

"I'm interested!" Jacob corrected himself. "Anyone else?"

"It's yours."

"The Santa statue."

"Mom painted that herself."

"I would like it," Emily said gently, "If no one else..."

"You go ahead."

"The Egyptian tablecloth with Santa on the camel."

"That's from Egypt. It should go to Andrew and Nancy."

"Christmas bowls? There's a lot of them."

"I'll take a few."

"Me, too."

"I would like the advent calendar from our childhood, if anyone comes across it," Emily said.

"I think we already have that," I said, with a nervous 'eek' face on. "Your mom gave it to us years ago—I think for Rachel's first Christmas—because she'd gotten a new one and it says HEISS on it and..."

"Oh, that's fine then! I'm just glad someone is still using it!"

And there went Karen's Christmas collection, doled out, bit by bit, to her children (who, I daresay, were amicable and grown up about the whole thing—laughing and sharing memories and not letting tensions run high). Of course, I think we still ended up loading ten boxes back into the storage room so it's not like we doled out everything.

But we each have enough that she will be a presence in everyone's home this Christmas.

1 comment:

  1. Oh gosh. So hard to do that.
    I loved that poem by the way. Very very intriguing