(This year I used cheap grapevine wreaths to form a garland for my tree, filling in where the cat has bent branches apart. I just cut the vines that wrap around each wreath, then began opening them up and winding them around the tree. Then I separated the individual vines of each wreath, spreading them apart a bit. It took 4 1/2 wreaths. Theres a tutorial here)
When one side of the family quit wanting us to visit at Christmas, we knew it was time to start having Christmas at our home where we'd welcome anyone who wanted to come. My kids are now 19 and 15, it is past time. This doesn't mean I don't value the traditions of my parents and grandparents. I do and we still, pretty much, do the same stuff, only we only leave home to visit my father later in the day.
So, I had my grandmother's favorite Christmas meal: shrimp gumbo, rice, potato salad, and pecan pie at my house and that part of our family came over for a quiet little get together. Could that menu sound more southern? I was so pleased to see her enjoying herself. She's has had a rough year and going anywhere with a spouse that has dementia can be nerve wracking. But they were able to stay for such a long time, compared to Thanksgiving.
Something that always amazes me is how the fog of dementia can clear in an instant and my grandfather's personality emerges from it for a few minutes. It is a Christmas gift. At Thanksgiving, my grandmother was making conversation by showing him an enlarged photo of his that I keep over my couch. It is of him on his horse during World War 2. You can see it here.
She asked him, "Where were you when this was taken?"
Now, there's no way he could tell her that at this point. But sometimes she tries anyway.
He looked at it for a minute, knowing he didn't know, and said, "Well, I was on a horse."
We all cracked up. She rolled her eyes and said, "Well then, where was your horse when this was taken?"
His answer, "He was under me."
That is my Papaw coming out of the shell in the best way he can for a little bit, before it covered him over and he felt so lost and uncomfortable that they had to go home.
Anyway, afterward as we finished opening presents, my grandfather pointed to that same photo over my couch and said, "Isn't that my picture?"
I said, "Yes, it is." and took it down so he could hold it.
As he took it, he immediately remembered, "That was when I was in the First Cavalry at Fort Bliss. Was it 1943? You know that horse's name? R992."
You just never know when it will happen. I felt good about my part in Christmas this year. I felt like I was where I should be, doing what I was supposed to. Everything is obviously not perfect. There are sorrows and changes, but I felt like I was doing what I was made to do. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and will celebrate the new year with people you love.
By the way, I was poking around online and found a field training video of my grandfathers cavalry division just before they went mechanized. Scroll down a ways and it's the sixth video from the top. (I am posting this mainly for myself.) He's in there somewhere.