Priceless Gifts

Our family has a tradition of spending Christmas Eve with The Hudson side of my family (father’s side) while Christmas Day was generally reserved for my mother’s family. Especially since my parents divorced over 20 years ago Christmases continued on in this fashion, even after we grew up Christmases and the eve was spent much this way, however, with a few variations due to the fact I lived in another state and now had additional family to accommodate with being with The Chad.
This year was like any Christmas Eve, making the trek to the southern part of Arizona to spend Christmas Eve with my grandparent’s. But this year was ever so bittersweet and meant so much more since the passing of my grandfather in October. I still have a hard time with the fact he is gone…probably because he is not and never will be gone from my heart and the many memories I have of him and the holidays, weekends, and in between we shared together.
So upon leaving to make the drive south on I-10 I made sure to load up on wonderful goodies to share with my family. The Hudson’s have always been very near and dear to my heart, with all our trials and drama, we are nonetheless family. I bagged up my fresh black eyed peas (just need to be shucked) for my family to eat for New Year’s. If you didn’t know black eyed peas signify wealth (or coins actually) for a prosperous new year, I packaged up the ornaments Grant and I made, the baked goodies, the kids, a homemade DVD for my grandmother to enjoy, and this year I received a gift from the One2One Network which was a Tony Bennett holiday CD. While I love Tony Bennett I knew my grandmother would be even more appreciative, because she REALLY loves Tony Bennett and Christmas is her favorite holiday so these two were a winning combination for her. Thank you One2One for the gift I could share with my grandmother.
We loaded the kids and made the drive. Arriving with plenty of time to pour wine, snack on some goodies, share lots of laughs and hugs with family not seen except for (sometimes in our cases) funerals. Dinner was served, my grandmother’s traditional ham, broccoli salad, my aunt’s mustard mold (it was a beautiful mold of mustard), my other aunt’s FABULOUS potato salad, plenty of food, good family, laughs, and tears for the beautiful prayer my grandmother said in honor of the holiday and the angel missing at our table, my grandfather.
After dinner we finally got to the brass tax of things and started to open gifts. My uncle made a point to share how my grandfather was not fond of Christmas (I share his belief….as I said…he and I were of the same cloth in many ways) but he always busted his arse to make sure that enough money was made to pay for the joyous holiday, that all the kids, grand-kids, and now great-grand-kids had wonderful gifts to open. While he was absent for this year, and this year also brought many financial hardships to our family and others, the holiday was still joyous and ever special with the wonderful gifts to be opened and shared.
He could not have been more true with his words. These are the beautiful gifts received by The Chad and I from my family on Christmas Eve. Gifts to last my grandparent’s lifetime, my lifetime, and soon, the times of my children; gifts to never be replaced, exchanged, or packed away, but honored, cherished, and stories to be told of these gifts for a lifetime.
My grandmother’s Spode.
Some of these pieces are no longer available and as my grandmother shared in her card:
“Little of a little, to the girl who appreciates it all!”
My grandmother gifted me a few pieces of her Spode Christmas Tree collection to as she said “whet” my appetite for the ENTIRE collection that I will be receiving over the many years to come that she has left in this life and upon her passing I will be the recipient of the complete collection. YES. COMPLETE.
The worth is priceless in my opinion. So many Christmas holidays were spent eating and drinking with these pieces of fine china, stemware, flatware, and glassware, the wonderful memories.
All the serving pieces, china, table settings, and even pieces like the beautiful ornament that has a compartment to refill with wonderful scented potpourri.
A gift received by The Chad. My grandfather’s pocket watch.
I believe this has more strong sentimental value to me than to The Chad, though the gift did bring him to tears. My grandmother each gave a wrist watch to each of her son’s and grandson’s (my brother and half-brother) and finally an heirloom gift to “keep in the family” as she said in the card to The Chad.
A wonderful honor, priceless gift, and a beautiful memento of how truly special my grandfather and my family are to me, how special we are to them, and how special my husband is to my family.
A collage made by my Aunt Shawn, for me. I lost it. I could barely keep my composure and the only words I could get out were “You’re an asshole Shawn!” But she knew how much this means to me. How very special and cherished my family is to me, how my grandfather was like no other man in my life. The collage contains a picture of my great-grandparents (top right), my grandparents at their 50th wedding anniversary (top middle), my grandparents and their children, my aunts, uncles, father (top left), my grandfather’s memorial picture (bottom left), my grandfather’s senior picture…the handsome devil he is (bottom middle) and the picture to the bottom left is all of our family.
I was pregnant with Grant in this photo. All of my brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces, EVERYONE is in that photo. Again, priceless. words could not and still cannot describe how wonderful a gift this was to receive. Even more priceless was the gift received by my aunts and uncles from my grandmother. Another honor that brought me to tears and one to be cherished by my family forever. I wrote a tribute to be shared at my grandfather’s memorial service, as did my aunt Doreen and my aunt Vicia.
Each of these tributes captured what is, was, and always will be the true essence and being of my grandfather in his life and in the next. These tributes were framed beautifully all next to one another and given as gifts to my aunts and uncles on behalf of my grandmother. A gift I was so honored to be a part of and had no idea. Here is the tribute I wrote that was the last to be shared at the memorial:

My grandfather was and still is the patriarch of the family. He is the rock, always steady and calm, weathering every storm. He was always the joker, trouble maker, story teller, shepherd of all his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Watching as they all played happily, giggling, laughing, he would bask in their innocence and fun. Occasionally he would join in on the fun and games. If you ask any of his grandchildren they will tell you his was perfect, despite all of his imperfections, Grandpa could do anything. In fact many of us believed he roped and hung the moon.

I recall many holidays, family gatherings, and weekends that I would spend with Grandma and Grandpa; they are and will always be some of my fondest childhood memories. I spent a great deal of my childhood with them.

At one of their homes in Eloy, shortly after they got Brig I recall Grandpa showing us how Brig would nip at your heels. As a child this was greatly exciting and scary all the same, considering the size of Brig compared to our small childish frames. Grandpa showed us to shuffle our feet and get Brig riled up, tell us to run like hell for the stalls and jump onto the railing. He would belly laugh and cackle to watch myself and my siblings, Chris and Brittany, run as fast as we could, but his cackle grew increasingly strong as you heard the shriek of Grandma Tina yelling through the kitchen window, “Danny!!! You Stop that and tell those kids to get in this house right now!” He was so good at getting her just as riled up as the dog.

He would reach the back door after riding or being in the stall with Sonny and stamp his feet as dust came rising off his boots and jeans. You could hear her from the other room scolding him and he would giggle under his breath, as he took those boots off at the back door. Grandpa spent a lot of hours, which seemed like days to me, in those stalls. I felt like we would walk for miles with him, at the house off the highway where they lived, which was next to the stud farm. He would walk us around, talking about horses, telling us everything and how that equated to life. The man was so graceful, he was in his element around a horse, he is my cowboy and no other will ever measure up to my Grandpa. He was lean, strong, wiry, and gentle, he could be cruel and kind all at the same time, and he was like no other man I have ever met.

He could tell you all you ever wanted to know about horses. But he could also take you on his lap, sit you there for hours and tell you about horses and cars, baseball, basketball, men and women, love and life, and he always had room to talk about business, he was savvy in business. Grandpa had a story, a lesson, a passion, and an unyielding love for horses, cars, sports and life; he told me “If you don’t love what you do, then you need to do something else, love what you do, find your niche. Life is not worth living if you don’t love it, love what you do, and don’t let anyone tell you how to do it.” Grandpa had a way of always doing things his way, they made sense, they were fun, and he showed that life was to be lived for every moment, no matter how big or small, good or bad, everything had a reason.

I will always remember the way Grandpa smelled. My family has a thing with smells, I think I get that from Grandma because her house always smelled like the freshest florist or the warmest bakery, it was heaven. But I remember the rough, calloused, and gentle smell of his hands, the hint of warm, earthy, dust from his morning ride, the remnant smell of a vanilla tobacco pipe, leather from his boots, chaps, and saddle, the sweat off his Stetson, the cotton from his shirt and jeans, and the air of his cologne. Each and every time I hugged him I could smell those smells, I can still smell him to this day. I know when I recall the smell I was at home, he was home.

My relationship with my grandpa cannot be expressed, the words will not come. A dear friend of mine (who recently lost her grandfather) told me that the love and relationship between a grandfather and his eldest grandchild and granddaughter is “magical.” He truly was magical, his life, the experiences we shared, and the memories I hold dear, will always be magical.

I love you forever and always, Kare babe.

Those are the gifts that holidays and moments are made of, not the fancy electronics, the Lexus with the big red bow, the diamond pendant, none of those matter…the simple gifts of love, the time and thought are what make gifts at the holidays priceless.
What were and or are your priceless gifts? Gifts your children handmade at school or with your spouse? Maybe your parents still have gifts you made as a child? Maybe even the simple gift of conception, family love.

6 Replies to “Priceless Gifts”

  1. Those are the best gifts I've ever heard of anyone receiving – and they didn't cost much at all.
    Your memorial was so powerful – reminded me of my father and made me miss my own grandfathers.

  2. I teared up reading that!!!!

    This year I personally made a card that would be from each of my kids to my aunt who they call grandma because she has no biological grandkids of her own and I was like a daughter to her, each card had a grandmother poem in it along with a picture of each card…she almost cried. She said that is the gift she treasured the most.

  3. It is gifts like the ones you received that touch the heart the most. My favorite gift this year was an afghan that my mother crocheted for me. She made me one when I was quite young and it was quite tattered. I was thrilled to receive a new one from her this year, made with her kind hands.

  4. Yes, I agree, the best gifts ever are those personal sentimental gifts, they are priceless like you said, and mean so much.

  5. I love this post, although I skipped the last half because I would have sobbed and just can't do with crying tonight 🙂 I know what you mean about the gifts meaning so much to the heart, it's almost as though you have a little piece of that special someone next to your heart each and every time you look at them. I have my grandfathers signet ring, I wear it on a chain around my neck and in moments of doubt I hold it in my hand for just a second and reflect.

    I am so glad you made it through your holiday with smiles as well as tears – while they suck I think they are certainly a good thing as well.

    Now for settling back in to the routine right? 😀

  6. I could not even get past when you mentioned your grnadfather passed away…I lost mine 1 1/2 years ago and the pain is still fresh! I am the oldest grandchild and was the only one for 5 years! Yes the bond between us was "magical" I named my oldest after him,Antoni, he LOVED that! I miss him so much he was the glue that kept us together. I saw him 1 month before he died, as I was leaving for the airport CRYING my eyes out he said to me "Don't cry honey you will see me again, you will be back to visit" He did not realize he was so sick as demntia had set in a little…that was the HARDEST thing..getting on that plane to come back home knowing i would never see him again! I cried ALL THE WAY HOME! Sobbed all the way home! Now I am crying again. I have a sweater of his that I remember him wearing ALL the time, everytime I put it on I feel him.
    Sorry for your loss. 🙁

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