A December Unlike Any Other

Tomorrow’s post is a bit weighty (I know because I already wrote it and scheduled it), but I couldn’t let today pass by without also commenting on the goings on.

Today, December 22nd, without a single flake of snow on the ground, it reached almost 70* at our hilltop homestead. ON DECEMBER 22ND.

We’re due for a 40-degree drop in temperatures tomorrow with high winds and a chance of snow even, but today was totally insane in the best kind of weather-way.

The kids and I spent most of the afternoon outside. They rode their bikes and scooters, played in the dirt, and Little Man even took his shirt off to run around, he was so warm.

Fredrika the wild turkey hung around beside me quite a bit today, and Charles Chickens alerted the laying ladies to soaring hawks so they could run for cover.

The nights have been cloudy and windy and prohibiting us from viewing the Christmas star, which is really quite disappointing, but if the tradeoff is an almost 70-degree winter day in South Dakota, I think I just have to be okay with it.

The weather today especially had me thinking of my Great Grandma Vida and her traditional Christmas Eve feasts.

Great Grandma Vida was – still is – the dearest person I’ve ever known. She had a bit of southern charm enveloped in sweet, genuine love and affection for everyone who crossed her threshold.

Almost every Christmas Eve, for years, we’d drive to her house in Thousand Oaks for a feast she made entirely herself. Turkey, ham, potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, green beans, rolls, pie – the whole works.

I still remember the taste of the ham and how none since has tasted quite as good.

Her kitchen was small, but the meal was abundant. We’d crowd around the table and dish up delicious spoonful after delicious spoonful. Her cooking was amazing and her hospitality was unmatched. It was always a time of joy and laughter.

She had a little glass Christmas tree on her coffee table in the living room that was full of plain M&Ms when we got there… usually almost empty by the time we’d leave.

We’d do presents to and from her (and Great Grandpa while he was alive), and I can still so vividly see those faces in my mind today, hear those conversations, remember the Christmas cards she had hanging from her stair banister.

She was always excited to see us when she opened the door to let us in, and acted cheerfully surprised, even though she knew we were coming. She gave hugs and kisses and wore polyester blouses as you’d expect any grandmother to do.

Being in southern California, Christmas Eve was usually warm and sunny, and having that be the case here in South Dakota today, it brought a flood of memories with it.

Grandma passed away a decade and a half ago, but I still carry with me vivid memories of her incredibly hospitable (and delicious) traditions. I can still feel her hugs and kisses, and see her smile. I can hear her laugh and smell that ham…

While this nearly 70-degree day isn’t what I’m used to at Christmas time in my adulthood, it brought to mind precious memories of Christmases while growing up.

In just about every way, this is a December like no other.

But I’m grateful for the memories we made today, playing outside in the warm weather.

And I’m grateful for the memories it brought to mind, of Great Grandma Vida and of her Christmas Eve legacy.

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