Having grandkids’ help? Priceless
By John Addyman
We have a Christmas explosion at our house.
It closely follows on the heels of our Thanksgiving explosion.
My wife transforms our home several times a year. Maybe this happens at your place, too.
Starting in the winter, we have snowmen everywhere — particularly snowman cookie jars. Then it’s Valentine’s Day, Easter, spring, Fourth of July, autumn, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and finally, Christmas.
She loves downloading one season and uploading the next. She redecorates upstairs and downstairs, sometimes outside, too. The colors of our house change with the seasons and the holidays. Usually, this changeover takes a couple of days.
But for Christmas, it’s a month of work.
And it’s mainly my fault.
I collect Santa Clauses…lots of Santa Clauses. Big ones, little ones, porcelain ones, resin ones, wooden ones, plastic ones, fabric ones, singing Santas, Coca-Cola Santas, carved Santas, toy Santas, Santa ornaments, Santa playing cards and Santa candles.
They are all up in our attic at this very minute — waiting.
“You have no idea what’s up in that attic,” my wife tells me.
She’s right, because throughout the summer, we go to garage sales.
I’ve learned that if you go to just about any garage sale, anywhere, and if you look hard enough, you’ll find some kind of Santa.
Actually, the only time there’s a Santa left at a garage sale is because I haven’t been there yet.
So we have a lot of Santas.
I’ve asked my grandkids if they’re looking forward to decorating with me this Christmastime.
“Yes!” they said.
“What part of the decorating do you like?” I asked.
“Putting all the Santa Clauses out on the mantel and tables and bookcases,” they said.
I do love my grandchildren. They’re 11, 10 and 8.
My grandkids also like putting up our Christmas trees — we have a kids’ tree upstairs, and they do all the decorating on that, and an “adult” tree downstairs in the front room, which I decorate, with help from my sister-in-law, Jean, who likes to do what I love to do — listen to Christmas music in the evening while decorating the tree slowly — while it’s the only light at that end of our house, with a hot beverage nearby. If a little bit of snow is falling, it’s all the more magical.
Over the summer, I collected a lot more Santa stuff. In fact, I have boxes that I picked up at sales that I haven’t looked in yet. Some weekend, when all my chores are done and I have a few minutes, I’ll look at those unchecked treasures. But even that is more fun with grandkids.
My grandkids, especially when they’re together, pick out things from these treasure boxes and have extensive discussions about them.
“You have too many of these,” they might say, noting that my supply of a certain Santa is over the top.
In the background of that discussion, my wife is staring at the ceiling in the attic, thinking, “Out of the mouths of babes…”
They’ll also find Santas that are a bit worse for wear and love, and those we pack in a special box, figuring we may find a use for them some day.
We use red lights on the kids’ tree, and we put toy trains underneath it (does anyone do that anymore?) — something else my grandkids look forward to — and we have Santa Claus lights, snowmen lights, candle lights and bubble lights. It takes us most of a day to decorate that tree, but as the kids get older, it actually gets to be more fun because they can put ornaments higher on the tree each year. In another year or two, I’ll be able to sit back and watch them decorate the whole tree.
When the grandkids come to visit during the holidays, the first place they go in the house is their tree to see if anything has changed.
‘When my wife and I were in our younger married years, we’d take the kids out to the tree farm and cut our own trees. We did that at 10 degrees below zero on a Saturday morning with a deer walking around the lot with us. We did it in a snowstorm. We did it with 15 inches of snow on the ground. We did it in a snow squall where visibility was about 20 feet.’
We get fresh-cut trees for the house. When my wife and I were in our younger married years, we’d take the kids out to the tree farm and cut our own trees. We did that at 10 degrees below zero on a Saturday morning with a deer walking around the lot with us. We did it in a snowstorm. We did it with 15 inches of snow on the ground. We did it in a snow squall where visibility was about 20 feet.
But once the kids became adults and moved out, it was a lot easier to get smaller trees and have the nice guys at Secor’s wrap up the trees and put them in the back of the SUV. Those trees we can get into the house and set up in 20 minutes.
And I’ve instructed all my grandkids to be careful about the spirit of the Christmas tree, to tell the tree it’s loved and admired, to thank the tree for its warmth and fragrance and glow.
My grandson Jaden heard me talking to the tree last year and he asked me why I did that. I explained it to him carefully. A few days later, when he was leaving our house to go home, he went back to the tree and said good-bye and “Thanks.”
I do love my grandkids.