Out of all the prompts for the assignment for day 16 of Writing 101, it was the words “things we leave behind” that stopped me, intrigued me, and called to me. For this post I am turning the page over to my son and posting the first part of a paper he wrote for his honors English class. I found this on my computer, which he uses to print his assignments, and hesitantly received his permission to post it on my blog.
When we die, we leave behind our memories and our traditions. These are my son’s words about the traditions my mom left for him.
Christmas with Grandmom
Traditions are something that most families define themselves by. They may be started in an accidental or silly way and seem insignificant at the time, but you find yourself abiding religiously to these customs. I believe that these traditions are passed down through generations. The child may react the same way to the custom as when it was first started, thinking it’s silly or stupid, maybe even taking it for granted, not realizing how important it will become when they are teaching their children.
When I was little I would go over to my grandparents’ house every Friday and Saturday to spend time and have fun with them. Around Christmas though, I spent just about every free moment I had at their snowy house in Pennsylvania. My grandmother and I would spend so much time together trying to make the rest of my family’s Christmas a memorable one. I recall one year we made clay figures representing each of my family members and hung them on the tree as decorations. Another year we made candles in secret out of milk cartons as presents. When Christmas day rolled around she was definitely the spirit of the day and was the one in charge. She was in control of all of the cooking, including her famous carrot soup and was also the one orchestrating the gift giving. She always knew how to keep a conversation going and happy when no one could think of what to say. She led the prayer before dinner and it was as if she had planned even that days before. This was a day full of laughter and good memories that left everyone tired but not wanting to leave. My grandmother had a warmth about her that would draw people towards her even if they had never met her before. The Christmas tradition began as far back as I can remember and taught me how a holiday should be run in my mind.
A while after my eighth birthday my grandmother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. That Christmas she was still the one who was in charge of everything and kept everyone’s spirits up. She was the happiest person in the room even though she had the most to be sad about. It was the just the type of person she was. Christmas was the same as always. You couldn’t recognize the difference.
The next year my grandmother died in November. We never got to have another Christmas with her.
A month later when Christmas rolled around we didn’t know what to do or how to celebrate without her. Without realizing it we created the same Christmas that she taught us. My mom did the cooking and made carrot soup the way her mother always taught her. At dinner my grandfather said the prayer the same way she would have done it. I tried my best to keep the mood up and orchestrate the holiday like she used to. No one realized that she had been preparing us all for this, especially on her last Christmas where she took the time to show everyone how to do everything she did. I didn’t realize until after.
My son writes more to end the assignment, but this is what touched me the most. This is part of what my mom left behind for her grandson. My son’s words touch my heart and bring tears to my eyes. I never realized how closely he was paying attention to all that was going on around him. I know my son will take these traditions into his own life, when he makes a life of his own with his children. That makes me proud.