Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Grandpa G. (part 1)

This past week, my Grandpa G. died. He was only 89, but that's a lot older than many people from his generation lived, I suppose. He wasn't in the best of health, but it did come somewhat unexpectedly. For the past few years, there's been a big rift in his children's (my parent's) generation, but yesterday I talked to one of my cousins and we've resolved not to let it impact our generation permanently like it seems to have our parents' generation.

This post is about memories of Granpa G.
  • Since I can remember, Christmas was a time to get together at the farm house in Iowa where Grandpa G. was born, raised, married, had his kids, and lived until it just wasn't practical anymore about 7 years ago.
  • At Christmas, the extended family all got together and stayed at the farm house. When I was little, I slept on a cot in the middle room upstairs with some combination of my sister and my three cousins. Usually I was in there with my sister and cousin Amy, who's nearly the same age my sister. Down the hall were either my parents or my aunt and uncle. On the pull out and couches downstairs would be my other two cousins and my other aunt. Sometimes, Amy's cousin would stay with us, too.
  • We'd watch movies, play pool in the basement, go sledding on the rolling farm hills outside, and have an annual bowling competition.
  • Christmas eve was always snowy.
  • We'd pile into my aunt and uncle's fullsize van and one or two other cars and head into town for church. The service was a traditional Christmas nativity story told and acted out by the church youth. When I was little, I'd shift laps between my aunts and oldest cousin. The service always ended with silent night sung to the light of a hundred little white candles with waxed-paper guards for your fingers. I always let the wax drip on me so that I could play with it.
  • After church, we piled back in the cars and van and headed back to the farm house for food and presents... but not before our own service using Grandma G's advent wreath and bible. The grandkids (those who could read) always did the reading. My Mom always lead the hymns.
  • Christmas eve food was always incredible. Little smoked sausages in bbq sauce. Fudge. Scramble (aka Check Mix). Annis candy. One Christmas my Mom brought a new recipe of cheese dip with salsa and ground beef... that was a huge hit, though it only repeated for a couple of years.
  • Our tradition is to do presents on Christmas Eve and stockings on Christmas Day. When we had really little kids, we start with the youngest. Out of respect, we started letting oldest go first later. I remember how unusual it seemed that my Mom and her older sister had both married younger men... and how weird it was when my other aunt married someone between my parents' ages. That broke things up in a weird way. Not bad. Just notable.
  • Never on Christmas Eve, but I remember getting to sleep on the couch in the family room where we did all the present opening, eating, and TV watching. The room had a great fireplace in the garage wall. My grandpa and Dad regularly discussed how the hardwood that they burn in the midwest burns so much longer, but cooler, than the soft pine wood that my parent's burn in the Rockies. My Dad knew so much... The couch was black leather, but soft and comfy; and it always had this black and white and brown wool blanket that was warm and cozy. I always associate the couch and blanket with my eldest cousin, for some reason.
  • On Christmas morning, we'd eat egg casseroles and coffee cake, then open stockings.
  • My favorite present in Iowa... when I got the Omega Supreme Transformer.
Part 2 tomorrow...


Anonymous said...

Hi there,
Stumbled on your blog -- nice writing. I'm sorry about your grandfather.. You have so many wonderful memories of him - that is really special.

On another note, when googled "pregnant women taking the GRE" - i found your posting referencing your wife. That is pretty amazing -- did she really take the GRE at 39+ weeks? I'm 20 now.. planning to take it at the end of the month. We have a 1 year old, and #2 is due around Turkey day. Anyway, it was cool to hear that I'm not the ONLY preggy out there making moves!


Rob Monroe said...

Thanks for the memories of grampa - I needed that. (Anny - not Rob, I'm just using his login)

Jessica said...

Sorry to hear this, Paul.