Christmas can be a time where many of us miss loved ones who are no longer with us. This is an old piece that I originally wrote back in December of 2010, in memory of my grandfather, affectionately known as “Grandpa Bones” (1926-2010), who passed away from cancer that Fall. This was our first Christmas without him.
Christmas won’t be the same this year. There is an empty place on the couch at your house.
I remember you sitting there doing the crossword puzzle with your drugstore glasses halfway down your nose. I remember you sipping your coffee from your #1 Grandpa mug. I remember your ashtray, which sat on the end-table, unused as of late.
I remember the white beard you’d grow in the winter. It made you look a little like Santa. You had a belly like Santa’s too. I remember you told us that you’d swallowed a watermelon seed and it grew inside you. In the summertime, we eagerly ate the seeds in our watermelons hoping to grow bellies like yours.
I remember how in the early spring you carefully planted Big Boy and Early Girl seeds in yogurt cups and set them on the window sill. When it grew warm enough outside, you put them in the little plot next to the garage. I remember the peppers in the gangway and the cucumbers climbing the chain-link fence.
I remember how you liked to make your pizza with sausage and green peppers—there should be a little bit of each in every bite, you’d say—and never mushrooms—no fungus for you, you’d say.
I remember how you saved everything. There were stacks of newspapers behind the sofa, plastic grocery bags on a vinyl kitchen chair, and a drawer near the stove full of rubber bands and smoothed out pieces of aluminum foil. One Christmas when Nana made a goose, you even wanted to save the grease in a coffee can like your mom did during the Depression.
This Christmas there will be no goose grease in a can. There will be no giant tin of three different flavors of popcorn. There will be no red flannel shirts and those socks without elastic at the top just like you liked. There will be no heavy black winter boots or brown moccasins. There will be no collection of Sudokus or a book on home-remedies using vinegar. There will be none of these things because you are not there for us to give them to.
We miss you, Grandpa.