At this time of year I feel his absence more than at any other time of the year. At this time of year it always feels like something, someone is missing. Through all the joy and happiness I feel a tug in my heart.
A little over 8 years ago my mother’s dad, my Gramps, passed away after suffering a massive stroke. It happened at the end of May when spring was in full bloom and summer was right around the corner, but after the shock of it all sunk in the only thing I could think about was Christmas. My Gramps is a big part of Christmas for me. One of my fondest childhood memories involves my Gramps and Christmas. It is hard for me to separate one from the other. The idea of him being gone and no longer part of that big Christmas tradition crushed me. And, today, 8 years later, it’s still hard.
For as far back as I can remember my Gramps has been the one to play Santa and hand out all the presents as we celebrated Christmas with Mum’s side of the family. It was his thing. We would all be sitting around my Nana’s living room staring longingly at the presents under the Christmas tree. My Gramps would be standing a little out of the room, usually partially in the dining room with his full head of thick white hair and his handle bar mustache that curled up just perfectly at the ends. My Nana would finally pipe up and say “Harry, do you want get started handing out the gifts.” He would smile and say “Oh, ya, you want me to do it, sure.”, like it wasn’t exactly what he did every single year. He would light up, you could see the pride glowing on his face, as he walked into the living room. He would kneel down next to the tree and start searching through the gifts. He would find one for each of us so that we all had something to hold, then he would find one with his own name on it and with pure surprise in his voice he would say “Oh, look there’s one for me.” We would each take our turn to open a gift and “ow and aw ” over what everyone got, then it would all start over again until the area under the tree was empty and we were each surrounded by that year’s bounty. I can remember looking over at my Gramps and seeing his face bright with a smile and I would just smile back at him. You could just see it written all over his face that he was doing one of his very favorite things.
For the last 8 years there has been an empty place beside the Christmas tree at my Nana’s house. Someone else sits there now, usually someone different each year, but the spot still feels empty. I love Christmas and the day we spend at my Nana’s is one of my favorite of the season but it is hard each year to realize that he is not there, that he will not be the one handing me my Christmas gifts. Someone’s missing from that spot next to the tree, but he sits firmly in my heart and in my fondest of childhood memories.
I miss you Gramps.