Heather Hamilton-Maude: Home for the holidays
Both of my grandmothers passed away this year, and I find myself missing each of them a little more as we are in the midst of the holiday season.
Grandma Maelene and Grandpa George would often come north from Colorado to spend part or all of the holidays with us. She would always change the television to ice skating when my grandfather wasn’t around. This year her conversations would have included excitement over the new royal grandbaby. She was a fan of Princess Diana.
I don’t know where it started, exactly, but I credit Grandma Maelene for the sugar cookie tradition in our family. We bake a tremendous number in various holiday-themed shapes each year. In the past, she, my mom, myself and my siblings would dedicate part of a day to decorating them. Grandma could even twinkle her ice blue eyes enough to get my dad to decorate the occasional sugar cookie.
We always had Christmas at Grandma Annabelle’s on Christmas Eve day, with dinner around 1 p.m., Hamilton time (that means later than 1 p.m.). Her meal was a showcase of her incredible cooking talents, with good-natured ribbing over who was eating too many rolls slathered in homemade chokecherry jelly.
It was one of, if not they only day out of the year where we gathered without work to do. The adults would talk for what seemed like hours before finally conceding to opening gifts. Before heading home, we would eat slices of ham tucked between a halved dinner roll. Then watch for Rudolph’s red nose in the darkened sky for nearly 100 miles.
Before the sun set on the day of Grandma Annabelle’s funeral, we all agreed that we did not want to stop having Christmas together as a family. So, while not exactly the same, with a few people missing, and including a few new twists (ugly sweaters) our little family will once again gather in the Black Hills of northeastern Wyoming to celebrate Christ’s birth.
And, while I, and my entire family miss both Grandma Maelene and Grandma Annabelle terribly, I have to believe that they are having their best Christmas. For the first time, they are truly home for the holidays. What a wonderful thought to spend Christmas with Jesus! It also fills me with great joy to know that one day my entire family will be reunited in Heaven for an eternity of Christmases thanks to what the good Lord began when he sent Jesus to be born into the world.
I read a quote recently that said one of the great travesties of losing the elder generation is that upon their death, family’s stop getting together. What a shame. May we all thank God for our loved ones, and for the opportunities to gather with them and celebrate not only what Christ did on earth, but what it means for those who have left us to go home to Him. And, what it will mean for us one day, when our time here is finished.