This past weekend we all went to North Carolina for my Grandmothers funeral. She passed away unexpectedly the day before Thanksgiving and we gave everyone time to come together to celebrate her life. She was one of my favorite people and I’m going to miss her everyday, but I couldn’t imagine a better time of year to constantly be thinking of her, celebrating her and coming together as a family. We spent the weekend wearing her favorite color red, telling stories and making sure we crammed in all her favorite Christmas traditions in a short 48 hours.
Friday was the service turned party, exactly how she would have wanted it. I said a little something at the memorial I wanted to share here. She’s the one who taught me to write and I think my speech came out pretty darn good.
It wasn’t until Nene was gone that I realized how much she was here. In my everyday, in everything I do. Especially this time of year, fall and winter, when the seasons change and the holidays are upon us, it was always the best time with nene. She was the keeper of our traditions. The things we’ve done for years, movies we watch, food we eat, special holiday traditions our family’s cherish, it all started with her.
When I got the call that she was gone, the first thing I did was pull out her recipe book. Something about staring at her writing, the steps to the perfect pecan rolls for Christmas morning, it made me feel like she was still here. I am lucky enough to have a hand written copy of the recipe, along with a note, making sure she told me what a great wife and mom I was going to be and that these pecan rolls would become something I would pass down to my family. Although when I bake them this Christmas, I’ll be baking blind.
Every year, I had nene on the phone, several times throughout the day when I was baking. It usually started at the store when I couldn’t find anything I was looking for, or having her figure out what it takes for dough to rise in the Caribbean. And once I finally figured out what I was doing, I know she wasn’t thrilled to know I had soaked our pecans in the last of my husbands rum- Danny wasn’t thrilled either. (They we’re really good that year). This year will be different, but I can’t wait to bake them with her on my mind.
For the rest of today, we will tell stories about Carol, and honestly we could all go on about her for days on end. But the stories we’ll have now that’s she’s gone, and how she’s come back to us, those stories are going to be just as special.
Before we traveled, I picked up stamps to mail my Christmas cards, I asked for the holiday stamps, of course. The lady at the desk discounted what they were, like, “they’re just snow angels” she said. I didn’t care what they were as long as they were in the holiday spirit, whatever would do. The stamps each featured a little boy from a children’s book I had, The Snowy Day. I recognized the illustration right away and even said something to the woman at the post office, but she had never seen the book. That night, The Snowy Day, happened to be on top of Denver’s pile, so that was the chosen bedtime story. I opened the book and sure enough, it was made out to me, from Nene and Poppop, October 1993. The book is simple and sweet, a little boy, dressed in a red snowsuit, experiencing the joy of a snowy day. There’s just something magical about snow, how it sparkles, how it forces you to drink hot chocolate and snuggle with the ones you love. Nene is the snow, making the whole world change color. Laying a blanket of magic over mountains and dusting trees with glistening flakes. The little boy in the story makes snow angels, builds snowmen and takes home snowballs for keep. The simple book, mainly covered in snow, just consists of the single figure, always in Red. This is how nene will come back to me, through the snow. I realize, my current living situation, makes it quite difficult for her to pay a visit, must be why shes gifted me a snow globe, every year, for the past 28 years, to see her everyday, no matter where I am.
Saturday we started the day with holiday Starbucks and doughnuts (they were incredibly necessary) and took the girls to see Santa Claus. Family came in from all over to visit with the girls, it was so special!
We spent quality time, watched Christmas movie and read The Night Before Christmas.
I know Nene brought us together on purpose, I just wish she could have joined us.
p.s. The “paint the town red” book is a Chatbook I made for my mom when Nene died. A collection of my favorite photos of her, bound in this beautiful Kate Spade cover. It’s the perfect thing for my mom to have and I could resist the gold foil!
(The girls outfits are all tagged on my Instagram!)