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Over the river and through the woods

Do you remember when you were young and spent the holidays with your grandparents?

If so, I’m sure you have lots of stories to tell.

We enjoyed Thanksgiving with the family and extended families. I sat back and listened to the stories they told about visiting their grandparents.

I said, “I hope I’m not one of those weird grandparents.”

My son-in-law looked at me and said, “What do you mean? You are.”

At the end of the evening we all came to a consensus — some grandparents are  hard to be with and some are easy. Grandchildren have their favorites.

I’m not sure if any of us know how our grandchildren perceive us. I hope they see us in a good light.

My own daughter said about her granddad, “We went over to South Fork to see him, you and Daddy went into the house, he wouldn’t let us come in. You said for us to sit on the fence and wait for you. We sat outside all day waiting for you.”

I said, “I vaguely remember that. It surely wasn’t all day.”

She said, “Mother, it was all day. He wouldn’t let us in the house.”

I said, “Maybe it was because we showed up with four kids.”

I’m sure it was hard for Al’s mother to handle all of us. She would invite Al’s brother’s family over first for Thanksgiving dinner. They only had two kids; they got to eat first, then we were invited over two hours later and we got to eat last —  whatever was left over. She said she didn’t invite us first because we might eat it all.

Heaven forbid. She had two large freezers full of food. In a lifetime she couldn’t have eaten all the food she had stored up.

Two other siblings were there and they talked about their grandparents. One set of grandparents, who came out of the Depression, hung up their old teabags to dry. They had everything covered in plastic to keep it new —  runners down the middle of the room, plastic on every piece of furniture, and even on their bed. The kids couldn’t walk anywhere but on the plastic runners. The kids were scared of their grandparents.

One of the siblings said, “When we heard we had to go to see those grandparents we cried. Our dad would say, ‘Stop crying, we’re going anyway.’”

“There were four boys from eight upward and a baby sister; we all sat on the plastic-covered sofa and our grandmother would put Alvin and the Chipmunks on the phonograph and we would sit there the whole time and listen to the song over and over and over. We hate that song today.

“We waited for our dad to get into an argument with our granddad over the police force or politics, which always happened. About an hour into the visit, we’d hear them arguing, and we’d say, ‘Yes, we are going home.’ Then we’d hear our dad say, ‘Get in the car, kids, we’re going home.’ He would leave mad and in a hurry. We all ran to the car and were happy all the way home.”

This year, our children and grandchildren will again come home for the holidays, for two weeks. There are 12 in our family. We spend every minute together between our home and our daughter’s home.

I have made sure we have Wi-Fi so they can all connect. No one comes without their iPhone, iPad, and computers. I make sure I cook their favorite foods and we have plenty of Hallmark holiday movies taped, and puzzles and table games to play. Al has been getting the snowmobiles ready.

My biggest fault is that our children and grandchildren know a lot more than I do on the computer, and I need to learn how to do these things.  I count on them teaching me and, of course, they get exasperated because I don’t learn as quickly as they do. They’re on vacation, and I’m on a mission.

This year, I want my grandson to teach me how to edit my videos for YouTube, set up an extra camera on my computer and another one on my tripod for my iPad, so I can do demos for watercolor classes.  I want my oldest daughter, who is an accountant, to set up a trust for us. She is our administrator, and she needs to know what we have, and where to find everything in case Al and I aren’t around.

Holidays are a time to make memories, some good and some not so good.

It gives the children lots of stories to tell about their grandparents.

Final brushstroke: I’m always thrilled with what I get accomplished over the holidays, but I can only imagine what stories they’re telling on My Sweet Al and I. I thought we were pretty normal. Apparently, we’re not.

This story was posted on December 26, 2013.