Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Riley Ackerman | Spread the Christmas Joy

A Grandmothers Christmas

There has always been something uniquely special about my family at Christmas. I have always been one of those people who sneaks in Christmas socks year-round, sings Christmas carols before my husband allows it, and can't wait to find the perfect Christmas tree to fill our family room! I smother the tree with way too many twinkling lights and all the sentimental ornaments I've managed to fit into tiny DC apartments over the years (a candle holding ballerina from my childhood, beanie baby teddy bear, Green Bay Packers snowman, all the hallmark collectables... you get the idea) and explode with the excitement of seeing family.

Christmas is my favorite holiday. The season is one of joy, filled with music, light, and sparkles. I had a Christmas wedding exactly two years ago, today; it was cozy and bright, filled with so many wonderful memories. But my love of Christmas began years ago, when I understood just how much my grandmother treasured this holiday.

My grandma taught me the joy of Christmas. Every person who entered her home (and even those that couldn’t make it) was special to her, and she welcomed each one of them with the same level of warmth and hospitality and love. Despite any struggles she was facing, she made Christmas, Christmas. The presents were always piled five high and seven rows deep around her vast tree. The pies always overflowed off the counters, almost one for every person. It didn’t matter who you were – if you stepped into her home around the holidays, you were family, and only the very best was given. Whether it was buying you that must-have Christmas gift, making your favorite pie, or just giving you an extra pillow and blanket, my grandma was Christmas to our family. Even as an adult, going to my grandparents’ house was magical. The appreciation for family was always apparent. Every year, it was almost as if Santa had set up shop right there in her house. I never knew how she did it. My grandma’s was home for the holidays.

Two years ago, my grandmother was diagnosed with brain cancer. Two years ago, we thought we wouldn't celebrate another Christmas with her. But God gave us two more years. Two more years of difficulties, crying, and hospital visits. But also, two more years of laughter, togetherness, and shared memories. Two more years of Christmases to be thankful for the abundant joy that overflowed from this woman all year long… but especially at Christmas.

Grandma passed away just a few short months ago, after a long and arduous battle. This Christmas will be different. My eyes swell with the thought of the holidays without her – her pies, her trees, her thoughtfulness, her blankets, and most of all, her caring heart. It will all be missed profoundly and by many. My grandma was the true joy of the season, and I hope that this year, my whole family can step in where she left off.

This season, I hope I can care for others the way she cared for me. I want to make someone’s favorite pie, or put that extra touch of thought into a Christmas gift. I hope that everyone sees the true joy that I feel, to have known what it’s like to experience the love of someone else at the holidays. I hope we all can care for one another the way she did. That we can put the presents five high and seven rows deep around the tree – not because we are a materialistic family, but because we are a giving family and a big family. A family that gives love, support, and most importantly, joy.

This year, despite time and distance, my husband and I will make it home for Christmas. Family is important, and it is what was nearest and dearest to her beautiful heart. There are so many of us, and I want us together to celebrate the joy of the season: the birth of Jesus, our Lord and Savior, and my grandmother, Evelyn.

Her legacy will live on in us, especially at Christmas.

Riley Ackerman

I'm Riley. I grew up in Ohio but now live in Anacostia (East of the River) in our Nation’s Capital, Washington, DC. Despite not being a city girl, I am loving my new home with my husband Aaron and our two rescue pups, Mowgli and Whiskey. I graduated from Miami University (Ohio) and Wright State University with a bachelor in Mass Communications and a Masters of Public Administration. I work as an analyst, but like many, can't actually talk about what I do. I have an irrational fear of sidewalk grates and metal spoons, but I’m slowly getting over one of them. I’m a Navy wife, and am looking forward to our next adventure outside of Washington. My Congenital hypopituitarism brought me to the blogging world in 2016 as well as my infertility journey. Read more at www.spiritualgrowthhormone.blogspot.com

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