I cherish this -- my childhood memories of Christmas at Grandma's. Every December 24th, my parents, two younger brothers, and I would travel the two hundred or so miles in the sometimes bitter cold to Grandma and Grandpa's to celebrate Christmas with my mom's side of the family. We would always get there in the evening in anticipation of sharing (well, mostly getting) gifts and spending time with cousins seldom seen throughout the year.
Once everyone was settled in, we would begin with a home-cooked feast of turkey, ham, and all the side dishes. Glasses of egg nog and slices of pecan pie would fill any spot in our tummies left by the main course. Afterward, we would gather in the living room, each grabbing a chair, couch, or spot on the floor. I liked the antique couch with the red fabric that had the distinct homely scent that I would always associate with Grandma. It was a pleasant scent (not an old person smell that might bring a grimace). Beside the couch was the old coffee table that doubled as a record player. You could lift the top and see the record player and the compartment that was used to hide the toys. Inside were Star Wars figures and a set of kids' boxing gloves. Smiles and gifts were exchanged in a flurry of ribbon and wrapping paper flying through the air. The anticipation of which He-Man figure or Lego set was more than I could bear. No matter what I got, I was never disappointed.
Afterward, with the clock approaching midnight, we would all say our goodbyes and talk in anticipation of the family reunion in the summer. We would load up our blue Dodge Caravan and settle in for the two-hour journey home. Upon arrival, we would all face the dread of the cold house and try to endure it while the solitary heater warmed up the house. It didn't take too awfully long for the freezing bed to transform into a place of comfort where I could snuggle and hope for sleep in anticipation of Christmas morning. The faster I went to sleep, the quicker I would wake the next day and find out what Santa left underneath the decorated Christmas tree. But that is a take for another time.
I cherish these memories because they are all that's left. Grandpa has since passed away from a stomach aneurysm. He died peacefully in his sleep. The cousins are grown with kids of their own and have instituted their own traditions creating their own memories. Mom and Dad watch their nieces and nephews with hidden sadness because they have no grandchildren of their own. I cherish the memories of Christmas Eve at grandma's so that I don't forget the life that was before.