Christmas with Grandma G

Living in a community for Active 55+ residents has given me a different view of Christmas.  These residents are teaching me more about living in the later stages of my life and what the holidays are about, celebrating being here to enjoy it, pure and simply. 

The way it is celebrated by our neighbors is as varied as they are. There is the neighbor next door who like so many of us, lives on a tight limited income so didn’t really have enough money to travel home to see the kids and grand-kids after making the trip twice in the last 6 months. 3 weeks before Christmas the kids called and said airline tickets were purchased in their name, they would be flying to their kids in PA for Christmas!

We also know there are many with no children or family to spend holidays with so invite others to a holiday party at their home. Christmas Eve they host a huge dinner and it is a family affair for those who need an adopted family for Christmas. We are told it is such a beautiful affair that even some with family sometimes attend!

There are those that go vacationing in groups with other members here or with longtime friends from Florida or elsewhere.  As you age, no Christmas should be taken for advantage as each could be your last. Also some relatives break from their families and unconditional love doesn’t exist so residents, for the most part. Many here refuse to be sorrowful, they are reminded by our community, you are loved by God and accepted as you are by everyone here.  Instead they adopt an attitude that their family may eventually come around and love and miss them. If not, God wants them to be happy not wither in self-pity for what was or was not. Life is not to wasted but cherished for the blessings bestowed on us.

My Christmas was preceded by a brief overnight-er in the hospital.  It was
discovered my main artery was almost completely blocked to my heart. A stint
was put in and I am fine, one week to the day of Christmas Eve.  Those are the times God lets you know whose lives you touched, who you matter to and who

you does not care whether you live or die. And, this lead to a change for the holidays! Sad on one front because our plans for flying to NYC to spend with my husband’s wonderful family were canceled. It opened an opportunity for us to spend with my son’s family in TN as that was driving only 2 states away. And both him and my daughter-in-law opened the door wide! So, God saw fit I saw my son, daughter-in-law and three of my grandchildren this year for Christmas!  Lost one blessing and gained another!

Everyone has prized memories of childhood memories of Christmas. Mine were of going to Toledo, Ohio and spending them with my Grandma Gliatti. So, when I arrived home yesterday, I received the best Christmas gift of all.  To explain, I have to back up; my older sister had traveled to Italy this fall. While in Italy, Terri traveled to the city where Grandma was raised, Bovino. Bovino is a small hilltop t9own in southern Italy at the foot of the Irpinia mountains located in the province of Foggia. She wanted to bring me back something from the city so I had a connection from where Grandma was from. Unknown at the time about the heart issue to her (or me!) but thinking she wanted some item symbolic of our tie to the city, Terri bought a beautiful heart necklace from a shop in Bovino.

Hearing the story in a letter with the gift box when I got home the other day, I knew inside this is a Grandma Gliatti thing, the heart that drew Terri to buy it. Grandma was always prayerful and led by God's word and love of family. When unable to attend Mass, she would sit and watch it on TV going through all the steps as if she were in attendance in accordance with her Catholic faith.  She was watching over me when I prayed in the hospital making sure everything was okay because she was that kind of grandma to all her grand-kids.

Inside the heart emblem is an item that swirls in a circular motion, just like the circle of love she had hoped for our family. Terri took that trip that took her back to where Grandma Gliatti started, Bovino, and Terri brought back a piece Grandma Gliatti wanted me to know was symboic of her heart showing me her love has never really left me. When others may leave my life Grandma's love is always there, uncconditional, watching over me, from heaven. Terri also bought me a pair of 
earrings from another shop keeper who knew grandma’s family, another connection to hold onto and pass on to my beloved Granddaughter who I love as much as Grandma loved me.   When the day comes and I pass into heaven where my Grandma Gliatti resides, I will have let my granddaughter know of my Grandma Gliatti’s unending unconditional love for her grandchildren.  

I had Christmas with my Grandma Gliatti again, in 2016 and my heart is full of thanksgiving.  I got my soft heart from her.  Grandma is with me always on my path of life.  I am who I am, give what I can give and accept there are those who will judge me and feel they are justified in doing so. But I chose to live as my Grandma Gliatti lived, simple, lovingly and trying to live in God's teachings the best I can, though I may stumble and fall from time to time I am ever prayful as she taught me.

Christmas is more than just about Jesus’s birth and giving gifts, it is a time to renew our commitment to living out His word.   Grandma’s heart reminds me true love is everlasting. She has been with me all these Christmases, not just 2016, in spirit.  Love endures.  It is the non-pure type that doesn’t, perhaps that type never truly exists.  Maybe that is why 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (“ Love is patient, love is kind…) was written, it has to be defined for so many weak withe ability to love, shallow in faith.  Grandma wanted Terri and I to stay connected regardless of our differences, to hold on to our bond, because that is what families do. Perhaps that is why, everytime she visits Italy she feels compelled to bring me back something and it is always something that reminds her of Grandma Gliatti for she knows how much she meant to me. 

Grandma Gliatti taught me how to be a Grandma by example. I know I have made her tremendously proud in that I have passed that type of love onto my granddaughter and to my other grandchildren I have been allowed to bond with. I love all my grandkids as she loved all of hers, freely, with all of my being. Daily, I pray for them all,so that God and Grandma G watch over them. 

The heart was telling, the text message I got from my granddaughter's new cell phone the very next day was too "Grandma, I miss you now" I hadn't been gone a full day yet.  And it made me sad and happy to see her words on my screen, isn't that part of the dichotomy of love? My son and daughter-in-law's children for sure will always know that Grandma Ronni will always be with them at Christmas because part of my heart will always reside with them.  Grandma Gliatti taught me to love like that.   Even in heaven, I will be celebrating Christmas with those I love "thee" most....

Dedicated to my sister Theresa Marie

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