I don’t have a ton of memories of my paternal grandfather. He died when I was three, so most of what I know of him comes from my parents’ stories.
He was an upholsterer, and he had his own shop in our small town’s center. My Dad would take me there to visit. I still remember the smell of the leather and the cotton. Olfactory memories are strong, they say.
One distinct memory I have of him is this: entering his shop, the top of his desk still just at my eyeline, and him, leaning down over the desk to me with a tin of candies in his hands. I always chose the spicy red cinnamon ones. And I remember his laugh when I’d make a face at the heat of the candy.
I was lucky to have my paternal grandmother around for a long time – twenty more years. Each year, she’d set up an elaborate Christmas village on her dining room table. It’s one of the reasons I started one of my own.
The holidays can be bittersweet for people whose loved ones have departed this life – like spicy cinnamon candies. Different things trigger memories and make us smile and sad all at once.
I take comfort in knowing that they are still here for me. In my mind and my heart. And maybe they even drop in once in a while to see my kiddos. My son reminds me so much of my dad and his dad in photos of them when they were young. I know I’ll see them again.
Until then, I’ll carry on with the traditions of Christmas villages and spicy candies.