Friday, December 2, 2011

Holding On To Gratitude

grandma's quilt

Picture the Holidays - Day 1

With the giving of thanks still fresh in our hearts and minds, let's start off our month from the best place possible: a place of gratitude.

Take a few minutes to focus on all the things you have to be grateful for today and then, choose a perspective in which to capture at least one of those things in a photograph.

When I think of Christmas, I think of my childhood visits to my grandparents whom we called "MaMa" and "Pa". My mom and dad lived in Atlanta when I was born, but their roots and family were in Tennessee. So, through most of my childhood I only saw my grandparents a few times a year.

It was like visiting Santa when we went to seee them no matter the season. The gifts we could always count on receiving were boundless and exuberant love, affection and adoration.

That, and my MaMa actually had powers to prevent any sort of disciplinary action being levied upon me. Going to visit MaMa was like getting immunity on Survivor. No one could touch me. She loved to tell the story of how I ran to her when my dad was after me for something (that I most certainly did not deserve). Peeking out from behind the curtain of safety provided by her "duster" as she called it, I informed my dad that "this is the house of do as you please."

It pretty much was.

Christmas visits were particularly special. I can remember one year being so excited about going to see them that I dressed fully down to my shoes the night before and slept on top of my made bed so I'd be ready to hit the ground running when it was time to leave.

Their tiny little three bedroom brick ranch smelled like wood smoke, tobacco corn bread and coffee. There were more people in that house than beds. So, when it was time for sleep, my sister and I would settle in on "palets" made from quilts stacked maybe six deep on the floor underneath us and six more on top.

With only electric wall heaters in the main part of the house it would get pretty chilly at night. The whole house was awakened early each morning by the sounds of my Pa throwing logs into the wood stove that was located in their den, which was formerly their garage. Pretty soon the den would be so hot it would run everyone back up into the kitchen and we'd have breakfast.

MaMa would make eggs, sausage, gravy and Hungry Jack biscuits. I'm sure back in the day she could make biscuits from scratch, but I thought these were the most delicious biscuits ever baked. I loved dragging those flaky thin layers through the gravy one at a time.

My Pa, or Rawhide as he liked to call himself, had some eating habits that were a major curiosity to me. He would always pour some of his coffee in a saucer to cool it and then slowly sip it directly from the saucer. He also ate all his food with a spoon.

We moved back to Tennessee when I was 15 years old, and we continued to have Christmas Eve at their house until my parents moved into the place where they are now. We then moved Christmas to the home of the next generation of grandparents.

And boy did my parents really get into Christmas after their grandkids came along. I know my boys have wonderful and fond memories of their childhood holidays. I often find myself wishing they could really understand what it was like to spend Christmas at MaMa and Pa's. As many joyful holidays as I've had with my family over all these years Christmas never was the same for me after that.

We only have one childhood in which to experience Christmas, and I'm grateful that mine holds so many sweet memories.

When my grandmother died, I wished I could have backed up a truck to her house and taken everything she ever owned home with me. Of course, that was impossible so I had one major request. I wanted at least one of her quilts.

Three-hundred-sixty four days a year that quilt stays carefully folded on the top shelf of my closet. But, on Christmas Eve I bring it down and spread it out on my bed. One night a year, I sleep under that quilt and hold on with gratitude to those loving, warm and sweet memories of my childhood holidays.

For this photo prompt, I took the quilt down a bit early and stopped for a few moments to carefully refold it - running my hands over its surface again and again, smoothing it down the way my grandmother used to rub my back as I lay across her lap. I'm grateful to have it and it helps me hold on to the memories.

I'll leave you today by sharing a favorite Christmas moment from my boys' childhoods. My dad played Santa. Adam was convinced, but his older brother was nobody's fool. We still had MaMa and Pa with us then and hearing their voices makes me smile.


  1. Love your post on your Christmas memories of visiting Ma Ma and pa. Actually made me cry! Have so many wonderful memories like that from my own childhood, and what a blessing in life it is to have those. Especially the magical protection that your grandmothers duster had.... I actually have one of my grandmothers hanging in my kitchen at my cabin. Christmas is wonderful, but can be some times of bittersweet nostalgia.. I just took out my mothers quilt yesterday and hung it up for Christmas. This really touches my heart!

  2. Also, absolutely loved the movie of Santa coming, and brought a memory of one year at our cabin when I was santa. At first thought it was funny, but when i saw the looks in the eyes of the kids there, absolutely sobered up and did my job with great seriousness. So funny listening to your sons skepticism. Shared your post with my daughter also and she loved it too! ONe more time..... great post LeAnne.

  3. What a beautiful story. Love the photo of the quilt and the video from your family treasures. I have quilts from my Grandma, too, that really have special meaning for me. Thank you for sharing this!

  4. Awesome blog. met you on Pic the Holidays!


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