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Monday, December 19, 2011
Monday Mug Shot
Doesn’t Christmas on the weekend make more stress? I don’t think it’s bad stress, it’s more that It energizes me and makes me relapse in my type-A-ness. But I’ve learned how to channel my type-A and just garb those reins when there is a project to be done. It took a long time to make myself learn that discipline!
This mug was Grandma’s. While she usually came to our house about two weeks before Christmas and stayed until New Year’s Day, going home after the`- celebrating in the new year, she drank her coffee from a Christmas cup all of December. I think that’s where Mom got the need for appropriate Christmas glassware and mugs from. I got it from both of them!
I inherited the type-A thing from Grandma too, to an extent. Grandma was one of the first women in management positions at the Kresge Corporation. She’d been the store manager at 2 different Kresges. Every year on Christmas Day, she had to take a break from the festivities to go check on the store, make sure all looked good and safe and the closed store was having a quiet Christmas. That’s dedication. But what I failed to realize, or to remember anyway, when I started my professional days was that when she did her store-check on Christmas, Papa always went with her and when she came back, she was all smiles and picked right up where she left off in bubbly conversations, games and nibbles. Her standard answer when someone asked her how the store was, “It’s still there,” and that was all she said about it. She was dedicated, but knew how to separate what you do for a living and what you do for a life. It took me a decade to figure that out and I never asked, maybe it did for her too, maybe that’s why she was offered the management positions first. The thing is she was great at balancing work, family and parenting before it was even a thought of being necessary for anyone! She could also in 2 hours every Wednesday, her day off and one that I spent with her in the summer a few times when I was little, she could vacuum and dust the house, do dishes and scrub things that needed scrubbed. She was the Energizer Bunny before anyone knew there was one too. Maybe she was the model for the advertising icon?
2009 was the last Christmas I had with Grandma. She was in assisted living, in the memory care wing. She was still very Grandma in that she seemed to forget the unpleasant things, but remembered the better things. She didn’t remember that Papa and my Mom had already gone. At Thanksgiving she asked if they were coming to dinner. Thankfully, she also thought we shouldn’t let dinner get cold and they could eat when they got there.
That last Christmas she asked me to bring her checkbook and buy her some Christmas cards so she could write her gift checks. I had closed her checking account and opened one local to me for her so I could pay her bills, I kept the old checks and kept the register up including the Social Security and pension deposits so she could see that the bills were paid and write the Christmas checks. I rewrote the checks from the actual account before giving them. She was mentally okay in remembering to whom she gave gifts and where she kept the record of how much. By about half way through her cards she began to get tired. That’s when she stated getting confused and we decided to finish the cards another day.
I tried to time my visits so I could spend a couple hours with her before the time of day where she got tired, but doing the Christmas cards tired her out quicker than when just talked. I still have the Christmas card that she made out for me. It’s signed on the wrong side of the card and her handwriting had gotten pretty sloppy, but it’s still a special treasure to me. That card, perhaps more than her mug, but the mug brings me back to the card, lets me relive the precious moments of my last Christmas as a granddaughter. It reminds me of how blessed I am to have started my life as a beloved granddaughter to four and held that title, beloved granddaughter, for 43 years. It’s through the holiday traditions and memories that the ones we love never really leave us, they’re never really far away.