Saturday, December 22, 2007

Tales from my father: Christmas tradition

My grandfather always told my father that dads were supposed to make memories and traditions for their children.

My grandfather was an amazing man who did just that for all of his children, and, furthermore, his grandchildren. My grandfather passed away on Dec. 22, 2002, and still every time Bing Crosby croons "White Christmas" on the radio, I think of Grandpa. But I don't remember if he really sounded like Bing. What I do remember is an open-mouthed laugh while sitting in his chair at his kitchen table, spinning stories about his youth and years gone by. I loved those stories.

The first thing that hit me when I found out that he died was remorse for not doing what I told him I was going to do. I never made it down to his house with a tape recorder. I have no guilt over not visiting him or spending time with him -- I did that quite often. But I always told him I wanted to record his stories, his voice. And now I don't remember what that voice sounded like. And I wanted to write those stories down for him, for his children who loved him, who still speak of him (as well as their mother) with admiration and love.

He died before I could record him. I do feel guilty for that, although I'm sure he doesn't hold it against me. I miss him. I miss his wit, humor, and those wonderful stories of stubborn ponies, and baseball, and going to watch movies. I miss my Grandma cutting into those stories with an aside or laughter. And while she passed away not long after he did, I'm glad I got to have them for so long.

So one of the things I want to do is record some of those stories as they come up in a timely manner. I have a thought of binding them together in a book to give to my father. Hopefully it will give way to that some day.

But since it is almost Christmas, I'd like to talk about one fabulous story that speaks highly of my grandfather's character. Christmas is a great time to think about my grandpa. Of course, it is near the anniversary of his death, but Christmas meant so much to my grandpa. He would sit in his basement on Christmas Eve with his children and grandchildren (and great-grandchildren) surrounding him, a huge smile on his face as he unwrapped presents. On Christmas, my grandpa was like a king.

My dad's family got their Christmas tree as well as presents from Santa. So the kids (7 of them!) would find the presents and tree in the morning. I can imagine how magical that would be -- go to bed one night and wake up the next morning to Christmas! Although it would make for a very tired mom and dad the next day, I'm sure.

Well, one Christmas, my grandfather went out Christmas Eve to find the tree (it was always a live tree) and was disgruntled at the choices he had left. For, since it was Christmas Eve, many of the good trees had already found their way home to be strung with lights and ornaments. Grandpa found himself looking at the misfit trees -- those trees that were a little bare, a little puny. Grandpa couldn't bear to present his children with a puny Christmas tree, so he did what a man with an extensive tool collection could do.

He bought two -- and fused them together into one.

Imagine that -- bringing home two trees and working to cut branches off one to drill into the other. Grandpa apparently really loved a full tree. Christmas Eve and it's cold, and he's putting together a live tree so his children will have a happy Christmas.

Now, THAT, is making memories.

1 comment:

Jim said...

Thanks for sharing this Christmas story!