My grandparents always lived far away. One grandmother lived in New Mexico, Louisiana and Tulsa, Oklahoma when I was growing up, as she followed her son, a petroleum engineer.

The world's first commercially produced Christ...

The world’s first commercially produced Christmas card, designed by John Callcott Horsley for Henry Cole (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My other grandparents lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, then, retired to St. Petersburg, Florida.

We saw them on family vacations about every five years.

After my other grandparents moved to Florida and were too far away for family vacations, they made the grand tour of the U.S., visiting each of their three children in states from Illinois, to Iowa to California every year, taking videos of each family to show to the other families on the tour.

When we saw them in person, they gave us gifts. But, in between visits, and after the grand tours stopped, they usually sent checks or cash.

Money went into the savings account my single grandmother had started for me, set up to pay for a trip to Europe, one I took when I studied French the summer between my sophomore and junior years in college, a trip completely paid for before I set foot in Europe.

I always assumed it was easier to write a check than to buy, wrap and mail a gift, but appreciated them nonetheless.

Then, last year, I had the privilege of helping one of my husband’s aunts sign Christmas cards for her 9 nieces and nephews under 18 and fill them with cash.

Her daughter had bought the Christmas cards to tuck the bills into and taken my aunt to the bank to get the bills.

Aunt Clara only had to sign her name on the cards and write the name of the niece or nephew on the envelopes.

Her hands were stiffened by years of quilting, damaged by carpal tunnel syndrome, only recently relieved, somewhat, with surgery.

Slowly, painfully, she signed her name to each card.

Sitting beside her, I told her the name of each niece or nephew for the envelopes and checked them off her list.

Her handwriting, from a day when good handwriting was the mark of a good education, is still beautiful.

Controlled spirals and rings and slanted lines are the legible result of early years of practice and discipline.

In a day when cursive is often no longer taught, teachers fear our grandchildren will no longer be able to read our country’s founding documents, the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence.

And yet, she seemed to approach the task effortlessly. Of course, she would still sign her own name. Wish a personal Merry Christmas to each and every niece and nephew with their names.

I could have been watching my own grandparents write me their Merry Christmas gift checks or stuff my Christmas cards with cash.

Now, I treasure them even more.


Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers

Enhanced by Zemanta