It happened every Christmas. Grandma always gave us a box of her homemade goodies. The box was full of peanut brittle, bread, grape jelly, and apple jelly. I loved Grandma’s gift and anticipated it every single year. I will never forget Grandpa sharing his wisdom with me. He told me that if I would spread the jelly really thin then my jars would last longer. He said it with a grin that told me that he preferred to spread his jelly thick because it tastes better that way.
In 1999 our family was devastated when we found out that Grandma had lymphoma. She passed away in September, only 6 weeks after her diagnosis. As we neared the Christmas season, my heart ached because Grandma was gone. Christmas was going to seem empty without her. How could we have Christmas without Grandma and without jelly? I decided that I needed to fill in for Grandma and make sure that everyone got jelly for Christmas. The only problem was that I had no idea how to make jelly.
I came up with a plan. I asked a wonderful lady named Eva to help me make jelly for my family. She was absolutely thrilled to help me. We spent a fun afternoon visiting and making grape jelly. I was so excited about surprising my family with the jelly.
A few days before Christmas there was a knock on our door. As I opened the door, there stood my Mom and Dad with a box. My heart skipped a beat as I realized what was in the box. It was a box of Grandma’s jelly. Grandma had made the Christmas jelly before she got sick. It was a true Christmas miracle. Grandma had put a label on one of the jars that said Brett, Patricia, Taylor. My legal name is Patricia and Grandma & Grandpa were the only ones in the whole world who called me Patricia. I always secretly wished that they would call me Tricia like everyone else did. But as I saw “Patricia” on the label it was like hearing Grandma say my name one last time.
I sat and stared at my last jar of Grandma’s jelly for months. I didn’t want to eat it because I knew once it was gone, Grandma could never give me anymore. But I could hear Grandma saying “Patricia, just eat the jelly. Don’t let it go to waste” So, I finally allowed the last jar of Grandma’s jelly to be opened and eaten. I always made sure to spread it thin, so that the jelly would last longer.
My last jelly jar from Grandma is displayed in my curio cabinet. It still has the sticker on top that says Brett, Patricia, Taylor. This year I filled the jelly jar with red jingle bells and have it displayed with our other Christmas decor.
Every Christmas we load up in the van and go to my Mom and Dad’s house. We drive by Grandma and Grandpa’s house on the way, and I always look over at their house and get a lump in my throat. I miss them and I miss Christmas jelly. My Grandma had figured out that:
Grandma’s jelly was special because it didn’t come from a store…..it came from her heart.
My Dad has followed in his mom’s footsteps. He doesn’t give gifts that come from a store either. He makes something for his daughters and for his grandchildren each Christmas. He has made numerous Christmas ornaments and last year, he made each grandchild their wooden name.
Most Christmas gifts that are bought in a store are torn up or forgotten by the next Christmas. The best gifts are gifts that are given from the heart. I can look at all of my Christmas ornaments and always remember that my Dad made them for me. The grandkids will always remember that their wooden name was made by Grandpa. I have no idea what we’ll be getting this year, but I know that a special Dad/Grandpa is spending a lot of time crafting something out of wood that his family will treasure forever.