My grandmother died in my early twenties, and grandfather shortly thereafter. During this time of year, I miss them both and appreciate the many timeless gifts they gave me and my sister. My grandmother had a candle of a Saint always burning in her bedroom at night, where my sister and I slept as children when we visited; near the illumination was a rosary, the shadow of which flickered in the cool of the night. My grandfather wasn't a “spiritual” man, and wasn't even Catholic, didn't attend church, but was committed to the family and without fail enjoyed putting up Christmas lights every year. I can still hear the clatter of an aluminum ladder stretching for the trim of the roof of their home on the corner.
Each one in their own way modeled for me a way of life I didn't know I would one day greatly appreciate. Each, by living their principles, passed along to me invaluable and timeless gifts. My grandmother gave me the gift of affection, sense of value, consistency, dependability, and demonstration of faith in the intangible. My grandfather gave me the gift of warmth, joy, protection, reliability and skill to take on and finish a project without accepting less than the best I had to offer. Each in their own way formed the foundation of my beliefs about being a person, a member of a family and community, and each filled the gap where my parents could not (Family life wasn't perfect, sometimes troubling, but the true and nurturing aspects of family life can surface if permitted). Their respective faith in God and family proves to revisit me often.
Last night, I gave the gift of imagination, by taking my daughters to the library to checkout some delightful audio-books which they each were captivated by as we drove to our next destination (Had I known this would keep them from throwing stuff at each other earlier, I would have used my library membership a long time ago). At Home Depot, I gave the gifts of competence and partnership by showing my oldest, who is four, how to choose the proper wood-screws for my office shelves by instructing: “Find isle sixteen, which has a one and a six..look for a screw about this long.” The hunt for the wood-screws took us down many isles and to many stops, but it was worth every extra minute of time spent (even though I spent quite a bit of that time re-shelving product). Both enjoyed the self-serve checkout stand. The youngest, who is two, enjoyed being a part of our team, as she explored the many things see and tried to discern which was touchable and which was “Oh no, not that!” After Home Depot, we shared in the gift of God's joy, as we listened to Night of Silence: Music for Advent and Christmas (Marty Haugen, published by GIA Publications, Inc.), had our “bible reading time”at the table, enjoyed hot chocolate and chatted about the “beautiful music” (I love these little chats so I keep a digital recording on to capture these special moments). Afterward, we shared the gift of humility before God in prayer with our rosaries (two Our Fathers and three Hail Marys) before they went fast asleep.I miss my grandmother and grandfather, but I have faith we will one day be reunited in the presence of our Lord. Until then, God's gift to them, in turn given to me, I now pass along to my little ones. Timeless.