Certainly, when the babies you raised take flight from the nest you provided and the images of their “kiddo” moments exist only on the photos still on your walls and, of course, in the deep recesses of your memory banks, the holidays change.
That’s especially true when, in my case, my beautiful daughters found a couple of nice young fellas to say “they will,” and, suddenly there are two other families with whom I vie for holiday time with them. Sprinkle in the fact that, as many of Lima’s young folks have been doing for quite some time, both my Shannon and Katie left their birth city and now live in Columbus suburbs, and that means the traditional holidays don’t really exist anymore.
Holidays, especially Christmas, often get moved to accommodate busy lives, and there’s also a pretty fair amount of what I’ll call “every-other-year” strategy employed as we try to gather, as in I’ll spend Easter with Katie’s and her family one year and then with Shannon’s the next.
And, so it was again just a few days ago with Easter, with my road trip to Shannon’s in Worthington for some family warmth with her hub, Nathan, and his parents, Jack and Donna, and some pretty amazing food prepared by someone who cut her culinary teeth making mac-and-cheese out of a Kraft box after school once-upon-a-St. Charles time.
Fortunately, last week I had to be in Columbus working the first half of the week, so I was able to take Katie and her guy, Hans, and the “grands,” 7-year-old Caroline and 5-year-old Abigail, and Shannon out for dinner at a Mexican restaurant for a little south-of-the-border version of an Easter gathering.
The dinner would be my opportunity to catch up with what’s been happening with the kids, both the adults and the little ones, as well as provide time to present my Easter baskets to a couple of cuties who’re currently somewhat dentally distressed after a couple of baby teeth in each mouth decided to vacate the oral premises.
I’d made my Ester purchases, an array of jelly beans and chocolate eggs and such, my baskets, the faux grass, and, of course, the crown jewels of the baskets, the chocolate bunnies; put them together; and loaded them up in the trunk the previous weekend, tying them tightly in a lawn bag to keep the contents from shifting.
Now, prior to dinner, it was time for the big presentation. I removed the baskets from the bag, gave one to each and actually was quite pleased to see both Caroline and Abigail actually went for the cards first to see what the man they call PaPa wrote, well, at least Caroline did, who’s a bit further down the old reading trail at 7. Each did what, at their ages, I probably wouldn’t have done, which is to read the card before rooting through the “grass” for the goodies.
When Caroline and Abigail turned their attention to the goodies as I looked on, I noticed that Abigail’s bunny didn’t quite look right behind the cellophane insert in the box.
While older sissy’s bunny looked the way it did when I plucked it off the store shelf several days earlier, I couldn’t help but notice that Abigail’s bunny didn’t seem to have a face. Apparently, the heat in my trunk on a pretty warm string of days leading up to my presentation had turned what used to be a face into an Easter version of a brown blob.
Now, this is the point when I thought there would be some 5-year-old protestations and some tears, the reaction to a faceless bunny while older sis’ had his countenance uncompromised.
However, there were no tears and no tantrums, rather some 5-year-old version of acceptance, after she looked to me for some explanation and I explained the effects of heat on chocolate for PaPas who aren’t very smart and store them in a hot confined space for several days but also the amazing rejuvenating hardening powers of chocolate, although the face wouldn’t magically reappear, when a fridge is introduced. Once I explained all of this, I detected an “Oh-well-it’s-still-chocolate” attitude in our little 5-year-old.
It was something I couldn’t have guessed, this conquering of a disappointment, and something that initially gratified me. However, after we wrapped up our family fun and I’d paid the bill and was driving back to my hotel, thinking about what had just occurred, I will admit, I was a bit saddened. There was a bit of what has made me pretty sentimental in the past with so much in my life, which is that sad realization that comes to all of us blessed with kids and grandkids. And, of course, it has less to do with faceless Easter bunnies and more to do with the knowledge that, despite their current tiny gap-toothed smiles, my kiddos, and certainly yours, absolutely, positively grow up far too fast.
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News and Our Generation’s Magazine, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at email@example.com.