Nana’s Room

Today came close to feeling like a bother.

It was raining which meant longer commutes – everywhere.

A colleague and I had a meeting this afternoon in the Fenway.  And after rolling up to three lots only to find “SORRY LOT FULL,” I finally gave in to the $40 garage.

I forgot to tie up some loose ends before heading back home, so I pulled over at a Dunkin’ Donuts to clear my to-do list before pulling into my driveway, but the WIFI kept dropping out.

And there was still a brief to prepare for a pitch tomorrow…that honestly, was making me anxious.

And so, a decision had to be made.  Keep fighting.  Push and punish, or stop.

So, I packed up the computer, got back in my car, headed in the direction of home and decided:

Tonight, we will unwrap Christmas.

And wouldn’t you know, I pulled in right behind my father in-law.  He’d just picked up my son from daycare (followed by a stop at another Dunkin’ Donuts for a special treat).

My father in-law drives an F-150 and has escorted me to pick out a tree every year since 2007, when Ken and I first bought our home.

It is still rainy, but not that cold.  Briggs is still snug in his car seat.  And, my father in-law is the salt of the earth, so it’s of no real surprise that he happily obliges when I call out:

“Hey, don’t get out of the truck.  How about we go get a Christmas tree?”

I hop into the passenger’s seat and the three of us are off.  We head half a mile down the road to our usual tree buying spot, and given that it’s rush-hour on a rainy Wednesday, we are the only three customers on the tree lot.

Which is ideal because Briggs is very clear on what he’s looking for:

“A small one, but not like some straggly pine tree that Charlie Brown picks out.” (We have Charlie Brown Christmas on DVD and it’s currently in heavy rotation.)

The man on the lot, protected head to toe in yellow rain gear, smiles and brings us right over to a beautiful, fat, short balsam for $19.99.

“This one,” he says, “is a great tree and it’s only still here because of the weather.  If you like small trees, this is the one to take.”

“It’s perfect!” Briggs declares.

After a fresh cut and quick trip inside to pay, the three of us are back en route to home.

“Pup” – as Briggs calls him, loads in our perfect five-and-a-half foot tree, gives a round of hugs and kisses and is off to have dinner with Nana.

Briggs and I waste no time getting into the Spirit.

Christmas carols and candlelight and plenty of “oohs” and “aaahs” over each and every treasured ornament.

We wait for Dad to get home to do the best trimming.  And once he’s there, well, then it really is perfect.

I catch Briggs spending a few extra minutes looking over a box of red, brown, yellow, and green bulbs.

For me, they are one of the most important parts of Christmas.

“Do you know where those came from?” I ask.

“Nope,” Briggs says – still not lifting his eyes from them.

“Your GG, Dad’s Nana gave those to us the first year Dad and I bought this house.”

“Can I put a green one on?”

“Of course.”

These bulbs are likely more than 50 years old.  They are simple and gorgeous, and my husband’s grandmother insisted that her son in-law (my father in-law) bring them over right away when she heard we had no Christmas decorations.

At the time, (remember this is before Briggs), Ken and I weren’t so keen on decorating.  But, I did insist on a tree…even if we didn’t have anything to put on it.

Nana fixed that pretty quick.

I fell in love with those bulbs from the first time I saw them.  And, that’s kind of how I felt about Nana, too.

By the time Ken and I started dating Nana already had 9 children, 19 grandchildren, and I think by then something like 10 great-grandchildren. (Briggs would go on to become her 13th great-grandchild years later.)

This is to say, there were already quite a few folks for her to love…and yet, she just kept finding room to love more.

She loved her kids.  She loved her grandkids.  And she loved all the people her kids went on to love and marry.  And then, she loved all the people her grandkids went on to love and marry.

She loved her in-laws.  Her sisters.  Her nieces and nephews.  Her friends.  Her neighbors.  Her neighbors’ neighbors.

She just loved us.  All of us.

My final words to Nana before she moved on to whatever is next, were:

“Thank you for finding room to love me, too.”

And her final words back to me were:

“I just always could love.  I love all of you.  There was always enough room.  Always.”

And so yeah, today was almost a bother.

Until I let in a little Christmas.

Thought of Nana.

And remembered the making room for love is all the room I’ll ever need to make.

(PS – And after making more room, and trimming that tree, prepping that brief for tomorrow didn’t feel so bad after all)nana


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