December 23, 2010, Santa arrived on my doorstep.
I came home to find UPS had left a large box at my house. It was addressed to just me and it was from my Uncle John. He's the youngest of my mom's four living siblings and the closest in age to me - just 6 years my elder. We don't exchange Christmas presents so I was very curious what might be in this box. It felt light...maybe it was a wreath.
I toyed with waiting the two more days until Christmas to open it, but my curiosity was just too strong. My teens were sitting at the table, both on their computers, chatting with their friends I suppose. Regardless, they seemed absorbed in their own worlds, so I proceeded to open the box, in my own little world there too.
Inside the box I found a letter in an envelope that said,
"Open me first"
"Season's Greetings! In this box you will find a Christmas memento from times past. All of us at one time or another during Christmas at Grandma's house touched this and took from it, the sweetness she made in her kitchen and placed upon it.
This item was very special to Grandma and it is signed by the one's who gave it to her one Christmas in 1962 (look on the back!) Recently discovered, we wanted to continue the tradition of using it to provide holiday cheer to those that visit during the holidays.
The recipient of this item should use it during their Christmas celebration and then around Thanksgiving of the following year, send it to another family member to use and enjoy during the next holiday season.
Sign the back of this page so the next recipient will know who has enjoyed it the years before they received it. Pack it well (save the box and packaging) so it will arrive safely at it's new destination.
Remember, Grandma is watching! Happy Holidays!"
At first I thought maybe it was Grandma's old Aunt Jemima cookie jar from her kitchen counter. As I lifted the foam layers of wrapping, I saw Santa...
The tears caught me completely by surprise.
In Santa's eyes I saw my own mom; paint brush in hand as she carefully painted each stroke of his blue irises. I have edited out our family name which is hand-painted in gold across the top. My mom's hand writing...big and bold, in gold. My own hand writing looks so similar!
I remember this platter quite well. It was placed each holiday season center stage, on Grandma's coffee table. It was prized by my grandmother. I recall hard candies being on it...the rest of the year the hard candies were hidden in a white ceramic box on that table, in the same spot, it too had been made by my mom. That box had handmade red roses on it. Grams was a baker extraordinaire. She made hundreds of cookies each fall! Her garage had stacks of Tupperware containers filled with her baked treats. Thumbprint, Date-filled, various Spritz, Snicker doodles and sugar cookies.
She'd make everyone their own Gingerbread boy too, but each was huge...filling the entire cookie sheet! I would help wrap each piece of cardboard before it's boy laid down for traveling. Grams would make these treats each year for all of us...because they were Joe's favorite! :) I still haven't been able to make Gingerbread boys like her.
The year my mom and dad and mom's siblings gave this platter to my grandparents I wasn't even thought of yet. My parents were newly weds and she was just 20 years old. The baby of her sibs would have just turned four (I think). Mom was the eldest of the living siblings.
My tears were so powerful they made my children each look up at me. "Are you okay?" they asked. I shook my head yes as I walked away to be alone in my bedroom.
Powerful, yet wonderful memories. I hope my own children are as lucky some day, in the very distant future!!!
This holiday season I did fill the Santa platter with treats I made: buckeyes, English toffee, Bourbon balls, poppy seed and nut bread rolls and sugar cookies. Santa traveled with me to my in-laws on Christmas night for dinner/dessert and to a friends house on New Year's Eve. He is now safely tucked into his box and come Thanksgiving will travel to visit another family member. Between now and then I need to decide who he should go visit next. Letting him go will be hard. Thankfully I do like to share.