I was barely 6 years old with big blue eyes and curly pigtails with my nose pressed against the front window waiting for Papa to arrive. It always seemed so long of a wait when I knew he was coming. I always looked forward to his big hello and hug. When I would hear the honk of the horn I would swing open the front door with all my might and quickly race toward the car shouting, “Papa are we going to make candy while you are here?” I always thought that Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Papa’s candy! He would always respond by saying, “Of course we are, and I will need my little helper!”
Christmas was always a time of celebration and family. Having Papa always made it all the more special. Every other year my grandparents would come to visit from Colorado. They would arrive several weeks before, as they would help my mother get everything together for the big day. Papa loved to help and cook.
It has always been my favorite time of year with the Christmas lights hanging on the tree tops, feeling the chill in the air and watching the neighbor children selling hot chocolate. But to me the excitement was all the hours I would spend with my Papa. He was a jolly old man. He always had a smile on his face and he loved to laugh and make me laugh. He would come down the stairs in his high water pants button up shirt and a hat placed right on top of his bald head. Only my Papa could look so good the way he was dressed.
When I was younger, I was an early bird. I think I would get up even extra early because I knew Papa would be downstairs reading the paper and sipping hot coffee. I would be up playing games and waiting for everyone to file out for breakfast. I could always count on my Papa to be one of the first ones up with me. I think he got up a little extra early too because he knew I was going to be up. Each morning he would say, “Little Meggie, lets take a ride to the store.” I knew when he said this, it was my chance to have Papa all to myself. It was these times that I treasured most.
We would hop into his old gray mini van and take off to the store. When we got to the store he would let me pick out all the food I wanted to eat that day. We especially had to go down the cookie aisle just so I could pick out a treat. I also got to help him make all the big decisions as to how much steak we should buy or the size of the shrimp to pick.
These trips to the store were not just a weekly trip. We would go two or three times a day getting more sugar or supplies. The lady behind the counter would always have a big smile and say, “Looks like you’re back again. What is new on the menu for this meal?” Papa would always reply by saying, “Whatever this little lady would like.”
My Papa loved to cook and he was very good at it. The things he made most often were all sorts of candies. He would let me stand by him and pour all the ingredients in the bowl and mix them together with a big wooden spoon. We would spend hours making several batches of candy and putting them in fancy Christmas tins for other friends and family. It was also a special time of year when Papa and I were together as we not only made candy, but we would make snow men out of white socks. He was very creative and loved to give.
Even when he was extremely ill he was always making sure everyone was doing well and that we were going to be all right. It always amazed me that even as sick as he was he tried to never show it and was always so concerned about everyone else.
Standing here today makes me realize how those years went by so fast. Papa developed lung cancer and was in the hospital for several months. When the Lord called him to his new home I decided to continue Papa’s tradition. There are some lonely trips to the store getting all the ingredients by myself, but I know that Papa is still by my side.
If heaven is anything as sweet as the candies that Papa used to make then I must say that I have already had a little taste of heaven.
Shine Bright this Christmas :)