This post is sponsored by Rockland Trust, all content and opinions are my own.
The holidays are a hectic time of year, and this year is the first time I’ve attempted to navigate them without the guidance of an incredibly influential person in my life. Today I want to share a little bit about one of the most important relationships I’ve ever had – the one with my late grandpa.
It feels like just yesterday that I picked up the phone and heard the voice on the other end exclaim, “Mrs. Kirk! How are ya?!” To which I’d reply, “Oh, hello young man!” Our conversation would touch on the usual topics. We’d bounce from the kids, to Mr. Kirk, to work, and finally it would find it’s way back to me, and how I’m preparing for the big day, Christmas of course. He’d stop and say, “This is such a wonderful time of year darling.” With a strong emphasis on WON, making the word itself sound as magical as the phrase felt. If I closed my eyes in that moment I could picture him tipping back in his chair, chin up, as he said it. I’d reply with some sort of worry about this being our last Santa year with the older kids, and I could hear him take a deep breath on the other end. “Well… do you know what I say when the kids come home from school saying that Santa doesn’t visit their friends?” He’d pause, and wait, because I was supposed to know the answer to this question by now. I’d giggle because I knew he expected me to remember what he told me last year, even though I didn’t. “Santa may not visit their house, but he ALWAYS comes to my house” he’d say with a sense of accomplishment. “I know. I know…” I’d trail off. “It’s magic my dear, enjoy every minute of it.”
My grandpa passed away unexpectedly in February of this year, at the age of 81. I’ve never met anyone quite like him, and now, I don’t expect to. He was married to his high school sweetheart, and had 3 children, the middle child being my mother. I grew up spending weekends with both of my grandparents until I was about 12. Once I hit my teenage years, lots of time passed without enough visits, but we always, always, always had a big family get together on Christmas Eve.
As time passed, I grew up, got married, and had 3 children. The time spent with my grandparents gradually began to increase again, and during the last several years of his life we saw each other weekly. He’d visit with my kids, offer unbiased advice on any topic, and remind me to slow down without ever having to say those words. Over the years he became the one person I’d go to for help or advice on just about any topic, he always had a fresh perspective. It wasn’t until his passing that I realized I would never have another relationship like the one I had with him. It was so incredibly unique, and to be honest I long to meet someone as well rounded and intelligent as him.
A few years back I gave him a memory book to fill in for my kids to read when they were older, he gifted it back all completed a year or so after. Up until his passing I hadn’t pulled it out in quite some time. When I found myself preparing something to say at his memorial service I remembered this book and pulled it out to read some of his words. On one of the last pages of the book it asks, “Is there anything else that you would like me to know about your childhood?” His response, “Treasure your Christmas memories – they will keep you warm in years to come.”
I’d like to put his advice into the present moment, and suggest that you take a step back from the holiday chaos to appreciate and treasure your current relationships, because each of them matters much more than you’ll know.
Rockland Trust, a community bank located in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, has sponsored this conversation. Whether it is your best friend from high school, a close relative or even your neighbor – every relationship is unique and important. Each relationship matters. Follow Rockland Trust on Facebook here, and over on Instagram here.