Traditions and memories
Christmas will soon be here. Are you ready? That preparation time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is about a week shorter than some years so whether you and I are ready or not, we don't have a choice!
There are only 15 days left for shopping, wrapping, decorating, baking, caroling, preparing Christmas cards and letters... I don't think there is any time for sleep so get out the 100-cup coffee pot or stock the frig with Mt. Dew and other caffeine-laced drinks to keep you moving. Maybe (just maybe) there will be time for catching up on sleep lost in the new year.
Most people have Christmas traditions; activities they participate in year after year and favorite foods to eat. Spending time with family is one of those traditions.
It will be different for me to not to be able to spend any time with my dad. who died Aug. 30. For the last few years I have eaten (an unappetizing) dinner with him at the nursing home but at least I was able to spend time with him and enjoy his smile.
One tradition my sister, niece and I shared for many years that I still miss is doing his Christmas shopping for everyone in the family.
He set a dollar limit for each of us and told us to get gifts that we would enjoy. As the years went by, the number of kids in the family grew.
He withdrew cash at the bank and placed those dollars in a foot-long black bank bag. Like children, he gave us all the same lecture each year: "Don't leave the bag laying on a counter somewhere." And like kids, we would thank him and reply quietly, "OK."
He never knew that as soon as we got to the car, we divided the money up and stashed away the black bag until we could return it to him. We still laugh about that black bag!
Our shopping trips were often in Minneapolis (since he lived in Minnesota) but we we did make it to Sioux Falls, SD and also to Sioux City. In the end, our list had grown to 18 people to shop for. The shopping allowed us to pick out things we knew our own kids or spouses would want.
In addition to the shopping money, he most always added money for us to eat on and even a few dollars beyond that for each of us to get a little something extra. We most often made it a weekend event, a vacation from home. We were exhausted after sometimes nine hours of shopping and sometimes had to go out the next day to finish our lists.
When the gifts finally made it to his house, they were wrapped. When unwrapping occurred, it was always, "thanks, grandpa, this is from you" and he would smile as he watched the excitement and the smiles from his gift receivers.
He was not a rich man, but he always wanted Christmas to be special. This was an awesome tradition; we have been left with even more unforgettable memories of this special man because of it.
We don't get together for this mega-shopping day anymore so that means I better get busy and get my shopping done alone. I hope I don't leave the black bank bag laying on the counter.