The anticipation and excitement I generally felt before a weekend at Grandma’s was truly on a par with Christmas Eve itself, or the night before a coveted trip to an amusement park. It seemed as though my Grandma had meticulously prepared for each of my visits, determined to fashion our limited time together to be the most enjoyable and exciting experience ever. I’m sure it was just Grandma being Grandma, but to me it was magical.

At one time or another, Grandma must have recognized my artistic abilities and love for creating things. I’m not sure when the tradition began, but I clearly remember running to the hallway closet to peek into the large box of goodies that Grandma had been collecting for me. Each time I eagerly looked into my cardboard treasure trove, I found newly added items such as brass buttons, small cigar boxes, and colored construction paper waiting for me inside.

I would often spend hours on end sprawled out on the green-carpeted floor of the guest bedroom cutting, drawing, and formulating some sort of childhood masterpiece. I recall one time building a single-story house made of paper, Elmer’s glue, and cardboard boxes. I painstakingly designed and decorated each room, one by one. Grandma would sometimes come in to sit with me and enthusiastically ask me questions about what I was building. She would also often have to lovingly prompt me to break long enough from my architectural composition to enjoy a sandwich and chips before continuing with my obsessive burst of creativity. Otherwise, I would have stayed in there all day.

In the evening, we would often indulge in a classic movie with some of Grandma’s famous homemade chocolate popcorn. We loved old movies, especially the ones with Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart. Grandma would sometimes reminisce during the commercial breaks about going to the picture show for a dime when she was a little girl and how much simpler life was then. Nobody could tell a good ol’ story like Grandma!

Other times, I would hop up into Grandma’s lap as she sat in her pillowed wooden rocking chair by the window and eagerly listen to her recite her favorite nursery rhymes with great animation and dramatic effect. Grandma was a gifted storyteller and I never tired of hearing her. She was equally talented as a singer and often serenaded me in her sweet country voice. She loved George Jones, Elvis, Dolly Parton, and Christmas music. Passion and appreciation for music, storytelling, and classic black-and-white movies were some of the greatest treasures that Grandma inspired me to embrace. One year for Christmas, I received a tape recorder and captured hours of her unmatchable singing and storytelling. I labeled the cassette “Grandma’s Greatest Hits.”

To me, my grandmother was sunshine. She was the most beautiful song that never gets old, played over and over again. She was a nurturer, a healer, a childhood companion, an inspiring creative teacher. Each day with Grandma was a recurring Christmas day.

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