2020’s Priceless Christmas Gift
I will never forget the first time I saw my new grandson. The little guy was only four years-old, but I immediately saw how our newly extended family would bring me joy through the years. At that moment in time, I had no idea this shy little boy would give me a Christmas gift during a pandemic unlike anything I’ve experienced in my lifetime.
Let me go back a bit.
This year has been interesting, although lonely.
The Mississippi Connection
We went down to the Gulf Coast in January to visit my brother for a few months in January. The last week in February, we headed over to The Villages in Florida to visit Mike’s sister for a week. About 5 days after we returned to Mississippi, I began to have all the symptoms of Covid 19. I can’t remember ever being sicker.
At that time, the CDC refused to test anyone who had not traveled outside of the US. I was so convinced it was Covid, that I refused to go to the ER. There was no way I was going to spread this in Mississippi. That state had still not seen any cases.
Within another five days, Mike was also exhibiting symptoms. So, we quarantined for nearly three weeks to protect everyone else.
By the end of April, I just wanted to come home. I was terrified of traveling through Illinois where cases were spiking at the end of April.
The one thing I knew I didn’t want to do was to stay in a motel in southern Illinois, but I did purchase a UV light wand guaranteed to kill Covid 19. The wild card was the little dog. There was no way we could keep her off the carpet, and I didn’t trust any motel would shampoo their carpets daily.
We talked to my sons, and they decided they would meet us in Marion, IL and drive both cars back to Wisconsin. One of the boys was a paramedic for years and the other a first responder for the fire department. I couldn’t have asked for a more qualified rescue team.
I packed a cooler with dinner for the four of us and we headed out from Mississippi. When we arrived at our designated exit in Marion, the boys pulled in not 10 minutes behind us…talk about expert planning on their part!
And so it was, after 21 hours the four of us arrived home in Wisconsin and collapsed in bed.
The Covid Scare
With Mike’s artificial heart valve and my heart and lung damage from Rheumatic Fever as a kid, we are both at extremely high risk.
What I can tell you is that I’ve rarely left the house since May. Typically, it has been to go to the doctor or pick up prescriptions. Each time I’ve gone out, I’ve worn a mask and quarantined for 14 days afterwards.
This has been an incredibly difficult year. I haven’t been able to see my daughter-in-law or grandchildren since last Christmas. We only live an hour and a half apart, but by the time we got home, baseball season was starting. My grandson loves baseball second only to basketball.
Because the family attended all the baseball games in Minneapolis, their parents decided it wasn’t safe to come to see us during the summer months.
The one good thing about fall was that the kids were set up for distance learning. Since their mother spent many years teaching in the public school system, I was overjoyed that she would monitor their learning at home. She’s one of those gifted teachers who inspire their charges to reach their goals and more.
A Thanksgiving Surprise
It came as quite a surprise when my daughter-in-law called a week before Thanksgiving to inform me the family had already quarantined for two weeks in preparation to finally all get together for Thanksgiving.
After I hung up, I started thinking about the sacrifice they were all making to safely come to see us. A three-week quarantine is amazing for an entire family to accomplish.
I had an idea. Covid 19 has trashed every single holiday tradition I’ve enjoyed with my children for nearly a year. What if I could put on my Super Woman cloak and create Christmas too? The kids certainly deserved something more than a turkey after all they’ve done to help keep us safe.
And so, I put up the tree and decorated the house. Then, I made all the candies and cookies. I wrapped all the Christmas gifts I’d purchased since June online. More than anything, I wanted to give them a Christmas gift in these turbulent times.
I even found time to make the famous black-bottom pecan pie and the pumpkin pie after cleaning all three levels for our family reunion – Thanksgiving – Christmas combo.
By Thanksgiving morning, I was exhausted but anxious for them to arrive.
Chris-Turkin Day- My Christmas Gift to the Family
The look on the kid’s faces when they walked in to discover Christmas and all the trimmings was priceless.
There was one minor glitch when we brought the roaster in from the garage. I expected to clean it before we put the turkey in it. What I didn’t expect, was that mice had figured out how to lift the lid and turn the roaster into their personal fortress and latrine.
It’s 2020, right?
It took nearly an hour to clean and sterilize the roaster, but we finally started the bird around 11 A.M. Thankfully, I’d already made the dressing before they arrived, so we had plenty of time to enjoy the tree and presents.
I adore watching the grandchildren open their presents. They’re always so excited over Christmas everything!
After our big Thanksgiving Dinner, we all gathered by the tree to chat and catch up.
A Christmas Gift of Love
It was then that my daughter-in-law explained that when basketball season started, she gave my grandson a choice: He could sign up for basketball or he could see his grandparents for Christmas.
Now, you have to understand that this boy eats and breathes basketball. Unless it’s raining or snowing, he spends every minute he can get out on the patio shooting hoops. The kid is amazing and will someday be noticed by a coaching staff at some university. I am in awe of his performance on the courts.
This young boy in grade school picked me over being on the team this year.
I don’t think anyone has ever given me a Christmas gift that meant as much as his gift of love.
In these days of Covid and all the anger that surrounds us all, Love is the greatest Christmas gift any of us has to give.
I pray each of you has a Christmas as filled with love as mine was!
Be Safe – Be Loved – Pass It On!
For more Christmas Stories:
Christmas Harships and Unexpected Faith
A Christmas Blessing: The ‘I Can’