I cannot tell you how many times that I have thought of one or both of you in the last month. Even though this isn't the first Christmas you have been gone, I am feeling the loss of your presence most this Christmas.
A thousand little and big things remind me of you. Starting out the day with a piece of hot buttered toast, just like you used to make for me, Grandpa, after you came in from milking the cows in the morning. Taking a shower and smelling well water. That smell will forever take me back to your farm. Tucking my daughter, your namesake, under one of your afghans, Grandma. And saying her name... Laura. You are everywhere.
Our home is full of reminders of tangible reminders of you. Your nativity rests on top of my piano this year. All set up and waiting for the Christ child. Your books (and the notes you made in them) reside on my bookshelves. Your china served my family at Thanksgiving.
Your traditions have made their mark on the next generation. Mom is carefully making sure every child and grandchild has gifts that delight each of them in a personal way. And just so you know, she buys socks every year for my husband now just like you used to for Dad. No one is allowed to open a single present until the obligatory "kids under the Christmas tree" picture is taken. The youngest children still pass out the gifts. And Mom has made at least six kinds of cookies... just. like. you.
One more thing. We worship the Lord you love. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The God Who meets with people at camp meeting and at the kitchen sink. It's in Him that I take hope tonight. That the love that I received from you was just a tiny taste of the love God has for me. That the longing that I feel to talk to you, laugh with you, wrap my arms around you is a small reflection of a deeper longing for Heaven. The land of no more goodbyes. Home.
And as I put the Baby Jesus in the Nativity tonight to celebrate His coming, it just seems so right. God with us. Emmanuel. He came down to us. And you both are now with Him. Whole. They say we will all sing together in Heaven, but something in me wonders, Grandma, if you'll be playing the piano.