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Last Christmas

Grandma's Christmas extravaganza won't be the same this year
Lead Summary
Brenda Winter, columnist

Last Christmas we gathered at Mom and Dad’s on Christmas Eve like we always do.
We four adult kids and some of our adult kids and some of their little kids piled into Mom’s living room.
The family has grown so large that we sometimes stack three deep to fit in the square 14x14 living room Grandpa Adolph and his brothers built in the ’40s.
Last Christmas we began the evening by attending church. Then, we arrived at the farm for round one of Grandma’s Christmas extravaganza. We were welcomed by a kitchen table covered with hors d’oeuvres: ham and pickle pinwheels, little smokies, chips, dips, pickles – all the salty things.
When Mom, wearing this year’s new, red blouse, said it was time to open presents, we smashed ourselves into the living room for the gift exchange.
In recent years we children (in our late 50s) introduced the wrapping paper ball exchange, which involves pelting innocent others in the head with wads of wrapping paper. (What is it about returning to one’s childhood home that causes one to revert to age nine?)
Mom said she found the last wad of paper in July.
After the gifts, Mom called us back to the kitchen for the final round of all the sweet things. Those who left without a stomach ache didn’t try hard enough.
Last Christmas, Mom prepared all the food, bought all the gifts, did all the setting up, and put it all away.
Last Christmas was our last Christmas.
In November, Mom died while resting in her blue rocker in the living room, 14 days after being diagnosed with lung cancer.
The closets in the farm house are filled with decorations, garland, snowmen, angels and wrapping paper.
The special dishes are in the kitchen cupboard next to the platters she used to serve the Christmas goodies.
We’re doing our best. We put up the tree, but no one turns the lights on.
We’re pretending presents are “from Grandma,” but they aren’t really.
We’ll try to make it through family pictures without her.
This Christmas, as we gather in the living room, we’ll look at the Baby Jesus in the nativity scene.
It’s going to be hard, but we’ll rejoice that she’s with Him, and not with us like she was …
Last Christmas.

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