I am entering the Christmas season with a new perspective.
And it is one that will never be Tootsie-less.
You see, my only living grandparent just graduated to heaven this past July.
But, technically, she wasn’t just my “only living grandparent” as I wrote. She is the woman that we named our first daughter after—-Marguerite. Known to all as Tootsie.
She passed at 91 years young. With a full heart. And family by her side.
Not me, however, I was a world away. On the last night that I saw her before flying across the continental US and then the Atlantic, I gave her a kiss on her lips, told her to behave, stay out of trouble, and I would see her in 3 years.
I left fully believing I would see her in 3 years—and fully knowing that perhaps I would not see her in 3 years. A conundrum of the worst sorts.
There is not a day that passes that my heart doesn’t skip a beat thinking about our Tootsie. Beloved, feisty, kind-hearted, slap-happy, Tootsie.
The woman that ate ice cream for breakfast and caramels for dinner. It’s a true miracle she even lived to see 91 years.
But as Christmas Day approaches, I want to make sure that my life and the lives of my children are never Tootsie-less. How do I go about that?
In the following ways…
As a child-bride (1 day 15 and married to the same awesome Papa Charlie for 54 years), I want my children to learn devotion. Ups. Downs. All arounds. Devotion. You are never too young to learn devotion, commitment, and how to stick to it.
You can be too young, however, to learn how to cook. Tootsie asked her mom, one time years after she married, “How come Dorothy is a good cook and I am not?” Dorothy being her sister. And her mom answered, “Well, you never stuck around long enough to learn.” Tootsie said after that answer she stopped asking her mom probing questions.
How else do I want to ensure my children live Tootsie-full lives?
By dancing in the barn!
When my grandma and I were in New Zealand together (yep, she took me to New Zealand with her), we were talking about her life. She said one of her favorite things to do with Papa Charlie was go down by the border (she lived on the border of Mexico) and go barn dancing. And then she picked up her pants a little and showed me her footwork.
You know, my Papa always whistled at those legs of hers—and I know why. Even as she aged, they were hot stuff.
Where am I going with this? In life, take moments to run to the border and dance in the barn! Take moments to have fun. Take moments to embrace the one you love and let him whistle at your legs. Take moments where you make moments and turn them into life-long love memories.
Yep. I want my children to one day, with the ones that they love, to dance in the barn!
Eat Dessert First!
Now, do my kids actually get to eat dessert first every morning? No! But I have taken to getting them donuts for each Thursdays breakfast. And they are thrilled.
You may say, “Sugar kills!”
But so do cars. So do storms. So do viruses.
There is a lot out there that can end your life. Sugar being one of them.
But Tootsie lived 91 years strong (only weeks away from 92), and she had the sweetest 4 teeth known to man. Yep. 4 remaining teeth. She did have dentures, but she didn’t find them comfortable. And so, with her 4 remaining teeth, we would always say, “Smile, Tootsie!” And then she would laugh and laugh and laugh!
You know, in our household, we are all for eating well. But, and I’ll paraphrase Cheaper by the Dozen II, when the mom of the dozen runs into the mom of her husband’s rival family, “You need a little sugar in your shopping cart!”
I agree and believe it’s true.
Life should include the sweet. Even if it means eating dessert first. Tootsie-style!
And, finally, Live in love with life. Live in love with the Lord!
When I was in the 3rd grade, and we were in the mountains for Christmas as a family, Santa showed up at our door. He was short and rosy-cheeked and stuffed with all sorts of goodness. Unfortunately, Tootsie wasn’t there to see him, but we did, and we told her all about him when she got back from her errand. And she relished the moments of our excitement and stories, with rosy cheeks of her own.
And even though she loved living with us in our hearts and minds of excitement, she never failed to praise God for his goodness—even in the silliest of moments—like winning in dominoes! Although, in our home, that’s quite a serious moment, too. Any domino game (smile and wink for all competitive families out there).
You see, she was a top-grandma…Teaching us to fish in the rain barrel, watching Papa chop the head off of a rattlesnake, allowing us to raid her closet-putting on her shoes, bras, and makeup, or teaching us how to make porcelain dolls.
But she lived her life devoted to her husband, her children, and her God.
Her God that got her through the death of two of her infant baby boys. The death of her husband. And then the death of her adult son.
Tootsie lived life encouraging our childhood imaginations and joys—but Tootsie lived life more by encouraging our devotion to God, teaching us, “God remains your constant. So, go out and continue living!”
And with a mighty slap on the shoulder, coming from a petite figure, you would know that Tootsie meant it.
Live life with God as your constant, and go out and continue living! And let your children invade your closet. But NEVER lose in dominoes! And I mean Never. Oh, and cheer for the Arizona Diamondbacks! Always.
You know, Christmas will bring with it many beautiful gifts, all glowing warmly beneath the evergreen tree. But I hope this Christmas to give my kids the greatest gift. A Tootsie Christmas. One where I teach them: Devotion; Dancing in the barn; Eating dessert first; Living in love with life and living life for God.
For those are truly gifts that will last.
Just like my memories of Tootsie.
Now, tell me. What about you? What lasting gifts can you give your children this Christmas?