Wise MenThe wise men have returned home by another way having left their gifts behind. And we returned home after an effortless roundtrip from LAX to Raleigh, NC and back; a journey that was tantamount to miraculous considering we were traveling during the height of holiday travel. The wise men didn’t face a $25 fee per bag when they set out on their journey, so they brought what they thought was important, the weighty gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. We faced ever expanding fees so shipped directly to our daughter’s home gifts we’d purchased online. When we flew, we brought what we thought was most important – the golden weightiness of being grandparents.

We’ve never had the pleasure of living in the same city as our seven grandchildren who have lived over the years in Colorado, Central California, The Bay area, New York, Kentucky, Frankfurt, Germany, Shanghai, China and North Carolina. To say the least, we’ve spent a lot of holidays on the road. But our luggage gets lighter with the years because most of the gifts we come home with are the weighty memories of wonderful times spent with our kids and their kids.

IanWho doesn’t love the gift of ecstasy of a little seven year old who opens his birthday present – a hoped for black suit and red tie arriving the day before he’s to be the Christmas Eve acolyte at his daddy’s little country church. How will I forget the gift of helping him get dressed, encouraging him, with some urgency, that his white shirt needed to go on first before his tie, or that he needed to tuck in his shirt and zip up his pants before he put his coat on. Memorable acrobatics were involved accompanied by Ian’s budding modesty. Before that, we’d spent the afternoon with scissors, colored paper, ribbon, Scotch tape and a plastic hanger making a starry night mobile to twinkle over a Bethlehem manger in the front office. Then we were on to sock puppets and stories at bedtime. A whirlwind of weighty memories – the rare gift of time spent together.

Ian’s older brother Nate, 10, has reached that age where he doesn’t want to be kissed. He wants to hug, but kisses are off limits. He’s willing to be pecked like a chicken, just not kissed. Go figure. And, of course, I find it nearly impossible not to kiss him when we hug – which is often. On the occasions when I forget, I simply reassure him that I haven’t kissed him. I’ve just sucked his brains out. That is infinitely more acceptable to him than being kissed. We pecked a lot while I was there plus working on a scouting art badge, playing tic tac toe, war, and arm wrestling. The look on his face was priceless when I turned out to be much stronger than he’d expected.

NateOur final day we spent touring two excellent museums and wandering  Raleigh’s downtown, Nate and I often hand in hand. In a number of variations he asked why did we have to go, couldn’t we stay longer. My favorite was, “Grandma Lynne Lynne, I wish you could stay five hundred years.” When we piled out of the car at the airport that evening, there were hugs all around, and plenty of pecks. At the final moment of parting, Nate bear hugged me, then kissed me – twice – on the cheek! I flew home with a gift weightier than gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

What are some of the weightier gifts you brought home this Christmas if you were on the road? What are some of your fond grandparent stories or traditions?  If you live at a distance from grandchildren, how do you nurture those long-distance relationships? If you were to create a list poem entitled “Gifts” what gifts, tangible or intangible, would you include?

Looking forward to what you might share.



4 comments to Gifts

  • Kierna

    Wish you could have stayed for an eternity, not just 500 years 🙂

  • Right now after the holidays, I’m hungry to hear people’s responses. I could use the infusion of good ideas to engender long-distance love. Thanks for your sharing. Fab!!

  • When my daughter was in her third year at UC Santa Barbara she had to work right up until Christmas. So we packed everything up and drove down to spend the time with her. A tiny tree was included in what we hauled (lucky I had a soccer mom mini-van at the time.) We had a fantastic four days – some highlights: Christmas dinner at a beautiful old resort up in the hills – every item prepared to the greatest visual presentation imaginable, not rushed, enjoyed every savory bite, followed by walking around through the gardens taking family portraits; my first ever time spent in an apartment – never lived in one and never stayed in one before this (I’m a country girl); family members who couldn’t rush off to do other things because we weren’t at home the result meant we spent more time together just talking and the absolute highlight – a walk on the beach on Christmas day and who should we meet but Jesus! Yep. I guess he hangs out there often, complete with his fully decorated van- thousands of plastic figures and messages glued to it. Okay, maybe a little over the top, but he did pass along a hopeful message.

  • Helen

    Loved your story Lynne – thank you for sharing your insights x

    The word ‘gifts’ lodged itself in my head in that ‘I am speaking to you!’ sort of way that usually spills into words sooner or later and this afternoon it did!Thank you! Hope they ‘gift’ you in return x

    And so often
    The gifts of Christmas
    Come wrapped in surprise
    And rarely
    Are they contained
    Within the boxes
    Wrapped with love
    Beneath the tree
    But in the sharing of love
    And the making of pain
    And in the age old patterns
    And family ways
    And in life renewed
    And in chains that break
    And this year
    The gifts of Christmas
    Surprised me yet again
    Contained as they were
    In the strong arms of my son
    Cleaning with good will
    And manly grace
    And in the tears of my mother
    Admitting her pain
    And in the quiet concern
    Of the blue eyes
    That once peeped at me
    From a baby’s shawl
    And now stare out
    From a well grown face
    And demand that I rest
    He will care for me now
    And reaching for the best gift of all
    I touch my husband’s heart
    And hold it out to Jesus
    And ask that he come
    Not just to the stable
    But into the midst of us all
    And I am undone
    Just like the parcels beneath
    The fragrant tree
    And I weep
    And my tears fall
    Like soft needles of love
    And to my surprise
    My tears
    Filled with your healing grace
    Become the best gift of all!

    HW 11-1-13

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