Several years ago, maybe a couple of years after our cousin Landere died, my cousin Kerri wrote down her memories of our grandparents. She made copies for all the cousins and aunts and uncles and gave them to us for Christmas. I was a toddler when my grandmother died, so Kerri’s memories were priceless to me. It was probably the best present I ever received, and I wanted to do the same. Then, Bronc (Landere’s twin) and I had discussed a collaboration of writing about all the antics Landere used to get into, but we never did. I want to share some of my memories with my cousins. It’s a blog post (I’m thinking maybe a series) of family memories, dedicated to my family. Maybe one day I will print it out for each of us to have a copy.
We were eagerly shaking the presents under the tree at my aunt and uncle’s house on Christmas Eve. My cousins, brothers and I were speculating on what was hidden under the cheery wrapping and shiny bows. My cousin Lena, who was much older and wiser than I, handed me a flat package with my name on it. “It’s from Ol’Gramma,” she said knowingly. “It’s underwear.”
My face burned so red that I thought I would die of embarrassment that instant. It was flat and square and felt like the same plastic packaging that new panties come in. What else could it be but underwear? How was I going to gracefully open this present and not hurt Ol’Gramma’s feelings? For the first (and only) time, I dreaded the gift opening part of our Christmas celebration. Despite my efforts to stall, the time came for me to open it (I saved it for last), and I tried to put on a pleasant face for Ol’Gramma, but Lena’s words kept taunting me “It’s underwear . . . wear . . . wear”. I hunched over it, hoping my body concealed it a little, and slowly tore the glittery wrapping away. To my immense relief, I unveiled a beautiful comb and mirror set in a pouch! Oh my goodness, I felt like I had just passed a stressful test with flying colors!
I remember Ol’Gramma’s last Christmas Eve, too. This particular Christmas Eve was at our house. There are a couple of things I remember the most from this night. One was Amy and the other was Ol’Gramma.
Lena had a baby this Christmas, Amy. Amy was about 15 months old and someone had given her a baby doll that terrified her. It wasn’t a scary baby doll, just a regular blonde hair, blue eyed baby doll. But whenever it was lifted out of the package, Amy cried the infant cry of terror, which was both funny and terribly sad that she was so scared. I don’t know what it was about that baby doll that made her so upset.
The other memory from this night was about Ol’Gramma. She seemed to be reverting back to her younger days. She didn’t say much, and she seemed mostly confused and relied on her son, my Granddad, to help her. I had a broken alarm clock on my dresser that always read “10:00”. Ol’Gramma passed by my open bedroom door and saw the clock. She exclaimed to my Granddad, “It’s 10 o’clock! We better get home! Santa will be here soon!” This is how I remember it, but it could be she was humoring us great grandkids, because she did that as well.