NANA’S HOUSE by Teresa Kindred
Many years ago, when my children were young, I wrote a letter to Santa from a tired mother’s perspective. I asked for a laundry fairy to gather up my boys’ smelly ball socks, as well as wash, fold and put away all clothes. I also asked for a kitchen assistant who would follow along behind me while I cooked and clean up my mess (I am a very messy cook). This dream assistant would also do the shopping, put up the groceries and clear the dinner dishes after our meals.
I must not have been very good that year because I got a new vacuum cleaner instead.
I think that was the same year my son played a trick on his sister and one night after we were all in bed he decorated the tree with her underwear (she’d just started wearing a bra). She retaliated the next night by stealing her brother’s jock straps and hanging them on the tree. Our four boys and one girl kept us on our toes … but I loved it.
What Does a Mother and The Grinch Have in Common?
Now that they are grown and I’m a Nana to seven, I know that sometimes my children might think my focus and my love is centered around my grandchildren. They would be wrong. A mother’s heart expands to include her children’s spouses or significant others, her grandchildren and great grandchildren. Remember the Christmas classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas? At the end of the story it says,
“And what happened then…?
Well… in Who-ville they say
That the Grinch’s small heart
Grew three sizes that day!”
A mother’s heart is capable of growing ten, twenty, thirty times bigger.
My Mother’s Last Christmas
My mother’s last Christmas was hard, in part because we knew by next Christmas she would be gone. What do you give someone who is dying for Christmas? I asked her what she wanted and she whispered, “I want to stay a little longer.”
Her answer broke my heart. She died the next July.
I was thinking about mom and her last Christmas a few days ago and by chance I ran across something that made my tears flow. I wish I knew who wrote this, but I don’t:
Message to Our Adult Kids
My children ask me each year “What do you want for Christmas?” After thinking about it, I decided to give them my real answer.
I want you to keep coming around. I want you to ask me questions. Ask my advice. Tell me your problems. Ask for my opinion. Ask for my help. I want you to come over and rant about your problems, rant about life. Whatever. Tell me about your job. Your worries. Your classes. I want you to continue sharing your life with me. Come over and laugh with me or laugh at me. I don’t care, hearing you laugh is music to me. I want you to spend your money making a better life for you. I have the things I need. I want to see you happy and healthy. When you ask me what I want for Christmas I say “Nothing, because you’ve already been giving me my gift all year. I want YOU.
I miss my parents at Christmas, but they would want me to carry on. And when I’m gone, I want my children to do the same. We all have our day in the sun, but sooner or later winter comes and it’s time to say goodbye. All we really have is this moment in time, only God knows about tomorrow. So eat, laugh, love and give thanks for the faces around your table, they are the only gifts that matter.
Teresa Kindred is a freelance writer, former teacher, and author of several books, including The Faith-Filled Grandmother, from which this article was adapted. She’s the mom of five grown children and “Nana” to seven precious grandchildren. She and her husband live in Kentucky. Her blog for grandparents is at NanaHood.com.