Standing in the front room at Grandma and Grandpa’s house I listened to the eight year-old neighbor girl excitedly talk about her Christmas concert. I did not like going to my grandparent’s house let alone listening to a little snotty nosed girl in just another old dress talk as though she wore the most beautiful gown going to some important event. Then we listened as the little girl excitedly explained that someone had left a small Christmas tree and some ornaments on their front door step the night before. It was as if Santa had visited early.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my grandparents. They lived in this house for 40 years in a neighborhood that grew older than they did at a faster rate. We lived in a nicer neighborhood and I just don’t have a lot in common with folks that live in that neighborhood.
This year, we would spend more time there than I would ever want to admit because Grandpa was very sick. He wasn’t going to die, but sick enough to put a scare in the family. I sat on the front porch most of the time so I didn’t have to sit inside the old dusty house. I would just wrap myself in a blanket if it got cold and wait until it was time to leave.
A few hours after the little girl left we were still there. Grandma came outside without saying a word to me. She carried wood over to the neighbor’s porch. She made three trips staying silent until she started back into the house when she said “Merry Christmas”.
A few days later we were back in that dreadful neighborhood. During the dark cold evening I sat perched on the porch. My grandmother again walked across the yard and placed a bag of chocolate chips with a jar that had all the makings for homemade cookies on the neighbor’s front porch. Quietly she finished and paused just long enough to whisper “Merry Christmas” to me.
I thought it would be a few more days but we were back the next night. Grandpa was feeling particularly bad. The neighbors came by again with the little eight year-old sporting the same old dress and the same annoying smile. They brought homemade chocolate chip cookies for my sick Grandpa.
A few hours later my Grandma left some canned and boxed goods on the neighbor’s porch. She was always considerate of others. She, of course, wished me a Merry Christmas on the way back into the house. I returned the sentiment although I am not sure she heard me.
I decided I should get in the spirit of the season a little so I brought something to donate to Grandma’s cause. I figured that I would just hand it to her on her trip over.
The neighbor family again came over. This time with printed invitations to come to the concert. The little girl handed one to each of us. She said, “You will really like it” as she handed mine to me.
This night my Grandma took a box of things over. I wasn’t sure what was in the box. I decided to wait on my gift. As she came back she kissed me on the check and said “Merry Christmas”.
When she was back in the house I pulled out of my purse one of my very nice dresses that I had kept from when I was younger. It was old but very beautiful. I quietly walked to the neighbor’s house and placed the dress over the edge of the box. I then went back to my chair, wrapped myself in my blanket and waited until it was time to leave.
The next night my entire family, including Grandpa, went to the concert. As the little girl came on stage my dad turned to me and asked, “Isn’t that the dress you wore for our daddy/daughter dance when you were little?”
I shook my head yes.
My father continued, “I didn’t know that you gave grandma back her dress. It’s good to see it used again.”
At that moment I remembered, Grandma wore that dress when she was little. She had given it to me when I was going to the dance with my dad because I didn’t have a nice dress.
It was about that time that my Grandma turned to me and I thought I saw a tear in her eye when she said “Merry Christmas”.