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A Grandparent's Christmas

My Chapman grandparents, Robert and Annie, lived in Norfolk back when I was growing up in the late 60s and early 70s. We sometimes traveled to spend part of the Christmas holiday with them.

What do I remember most about Grandma?

She looked like a grandma, sweet and huggable with a kind, gentle voice. And she baked a ham for Christmas, complete with pineapple on the outside. Rolls? You're talking about some incredible rolls.

My grandfather, a retired electrician, was a thin man who grinned a lot. Where some folks sigh for a frequented sound, he would often exhale the phrase, “ho, ho, ho, ho, ho” in a rather rhythmic fashion no matter the time of year.

They had a lot of grandchildren (18), most of which lived in the Norfolk area. We, my brother, sister and I, were the country cousins and, to tell the truth, I wouldn't have it any other way-it was rather fun growing up playing in creeks and exploring the woods.

My grandparents still had the home place here in Farmville and frequently visited. I have plenty of memories-fishing with granddad on a pond out in the Hampden-Sydney area; grandma stopping everything at lunchtime to load up the kitchen table for a full sit-down meal.

My, I would love to hear their stories again, but they are gone.

They often gave us boys a flashlight at Christmas but one year I received a toy car operated by a wire-connected remote control. It was the coolest thing for a little boy.

The sentimental soul that I am, I wish I still had it, but it's gone, like my Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots and Hot Wheels racetrack. Boys are tough on toys and you can only hang on to so much.

I am, nonetheless, thankful for such good memories. You never know what will make a memory for a child and a lasting impression. Grandparents are special; it would have been nice to have gotten to know my other grandparents better. My grandfather on my mom's side died the year I was born.

As I think about such things, I wondered what toy my now ten-year-old will treasure on into her adult years.

Her grandparents, of course, have rather spoiled her. And, I'll concede, it's their right. (It comes with the title.)

Yes, we know Christmas is ever so much more than about things, but one of the gifts the Lord has also given us is our family and families give-hopefully in memory of the gift of the Christ Child-at Christmas. As I reflected on my own past, I had to ask my daughter about the most memorable gifts she received from her grandparents. From one side, she says, a Nintendo DSI, from the other a watch with interchangeable bands.

I hope such pleasant childhood memories of Christmases past will stretch into her adulthood-and that she will remember and enjoy other things, too-like opening presents at my mom and dad's place and playing a board game with family while nibbling on some Christmas ham late into the evening. Or a sit-down Christmas Eve dinner at her Oma and Opa's place on a chilly North Carolina mountain and the flutter of snowflakes on a walk with their dogs.

Just being with people who care so much about you.

As for what Christmas 2011 will bring, who knows?

Perhaps a foot of fresh snow.

No matter what, it will-if we look for the blessing-offer more memories for years to come.