While reminiscing of my experiences of holidays past, I can’t help but smile. Not a half smile, or smile of whimsy, but a full out ear to ear grin.
On a holiday, we would get all cleaned up, dressed in our special holiday clothes and bundle into the family car. Off to visit the grandparents.
Going to the grandparents’ house was always a treat. What now is a quick 35-minute trip on freeways, once was a full blown 2 hour + drive over surface streets, snow and all. But we didn’t seem to mind. We didn’t have any of the latest gadgets to keep us busy. We talked. We laughed. And we told stories. Oh, the stories! My parents always made every car trip an adventure. Dad especially. He always had a vivid imagination combined with a dry sense of humor. Good old dad, the longer the trip, the more involved the story became. Everyone was placed in the story in varying roles. Mom was always the “top sergeant” though. Rules were made and enforced by her. (Dad idolized her all his life, and had great respect for her.) Myself and my brother were always added in as active characters usually in some type of discovery quest that always ended with an “enormous find” of some kind and a wonderfully happy ending. We used to be amazed how the story always came to a close when we turned onto the grandparent’s street. The meal was the climax of the event, sure, but the interactions before during and after are what sticks with you. I can still remember it all, even all the delicious smells of the feast about to happen.
In those times family was the most important thing in life.
Not just living with them and chatting, but really understanding them. Knowing them inside and out. And appreciating them for themselves. Liking the good, and laughing at the bad. There was bad of course. You can’t have good without bad. When you were bad, you were punished and most likely spanked. Everyone knew why and you learned your lesson and behaved afterwards, or got punished again.
Sometimes it was not the really bad traits, but funny ones. Like that one particular Uncle who couldn’t have the gravy boat until everyone else was done with it because there was nothing left in it when he was done. The cousin who always snitched an extra chocolate thinking no one was watching. Or the brother that had you steal the chocolate for him and claimed innocence when you were both caught.