When Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, "Oh, dear, the children are here,
Bring a pie for everyone."
Over the river, and through the wood—
Now Grandmother's cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!
(Child, Lydia Maria, Over the River and Through the Woods)Bundled up in snow suits, hats, gloves, and thermal underwear, we headed out the door to our annual visit with Gramma for Christmas. The snow-covered ground reflected coloured lights that shone brightly on the faces of homes up and down the quiet streets. It looked like a scene that Norman Rockwell might have created for the cover of a Saturday Evening Post.
On our way we sang songs and laughed to keep ourselves warm.
As we approached the house, I could hear the voices of young carolers nearby, adding to the fairy tale essence of the heart-warming experience of Christmas at Gramma's house. A warm smile greeted us at the door. She had been waiting for us to arrive.
"Come in and give me a hug." she said as she shuffled us in, one by one.
The aroma of fresh-baked cookies filled the house, mingled with the fresh scent of pine. There was a fully decorated tree in front of the window, each ornament with a story of its own. My favorite was the set of small sconces, that held real candles. They came from when her grandfather was a boy. She told us about the way they did things before they had electricity, and how those candle ornaments had been the way they lit up the tree, way back then. Excitement boiled inside of me. The cake, the carols, the warmth of family togetherness, I loved it!
First we would put the star on the top of the tree. Then settle in on her couch and read Bible stories to one another. She would tell us that it was Jesus' birthday, and she always baked Him a cake. After we had thanked Jesus we would each eat a piece of cake, and sing Christmas songs together. Sometimes we would harmonize, but mostly it was just fun.
She had a way of making people happy, by sharing a deep, penetrating warmth. She was a writer, a historian, and good at telling stories in a way that would render you motionless, in awe of the content to come. We always listened closely, as she turned out her never-ending tales of Christmases past. She was the perfect fairy tale Gramma, and I miss her still.