This post doesn’t have anything to do with a table, or food but it does have a bit to do with inheriting. Both sides of my family tree are filled with creators carpenters, cooks, fine artists, crafters, milliners, writers, and musicians. I have been very blessed to always be surrounded by people who love me and have encouraged any of my creative endeavors.
As I was decorating my Christmas mantle this year I got a little nostalgic. Christmas has a way of doing that. Growing up there really was a man, my grandfather, which had a round belly that shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly. He loved Christmas. His whole calendar revolved around it, actually. And even though he may have put on a Bah Hum Bug attitude at times, we all knew in his heart of hearts, Christmas was the most wonderful time of all.
Papa worked at Opryland Hotel in Nashville. He was one of the first employees and worked in the Maintenance Department. If you know anything about Opryland, apart from country music, it has one of the most magical Christmas decoration displays. Papa was fortunate to have a boss that allowed him to exercise his genius and creativity. I don’t know the details of how all this came about but I do know that I watched my grandfather in his small basement draw the plans and bring Nashville’s iconic poinsettia tree to life. It’s the first thing you see when you walk in the grand entrance to the hotel and you will remember it’s impact long after you have left. I haven’t met a native Nashvillian my age or younger that doesn’t have a childhood picture that was taken in front of it.
In addition to his creative spirit, he had as sneaky side as well. You know, the kind that hides a sleeve of cookies on top of the refrigerator so only he and his tall frame could grab one on the way through the kitchen. When these forces combined, well trouble could be found. At Christmas, it was in the form of a glue gun. I suppose he volunteered to do the wrapping when grandma’s arthritis became too much. Why bother with tape? When hot glue worked just as well. He didn’t stop there. Did you know that hot glue sticks come in Christmas colors and even with glitter? He could write your name with the glue- who needs gift tags? He could glue the box shut and who needs wrap when you can cover the box with hot glue and pennies?
But my grandfather wasn’t just about decorations or organizing thousands strands of lights. He was a giver from the heart. Many needy children, probably more than we will ever know, had shoes to wear and bikes to ride at Christmas because he knew what Christmas was all about. And that’s why I always say I still believe in Santa. Because the spirit of giving lives in all of us. And though, I may have inherited my grandfather’s creative talent, I hope that his spirit of giving is something I will also be able to pass on to another generation. My grandfather passed away the day after Christmas two years ago just hours after passing peppermint candies out to his neighbors in the nursing home. I like to think he just had to squeeze another one in. After all, his calendar revolved around it.
*The clock on the mantle was made by my talented father from walnut wood harvested from my grandfather’s land west of Nashville.
*The drawing of Santa was done by me, and is available to be purchased here