This Christmas season, I’ve decided to do something a little different. I’ve invited 24 authors to share some of their favorite things about the holidays. I hope you enjoy the 24 days of Christmas countdown with “These are a few of my Favorite Things.” Enjoy! ~Casey Hays
*Be sure to look for a Giveaway at the end of each post.*
“If Mom says no, ask Grandma!”
2016 has not been an easy year for me. In the span of four months, I lost my last two surviving grandparents. While I feel fortunate to have had them in my life for as long as I did (let’s just say I have a good four decades under my belt), saying goodbye to two people who’ve formed such a cornerstone of my life hasn’t been easy.
Grandpa Ciacchella, my paternal grandpa, died when I was four, so I never really knew him. I lost Grandma Ciacchella, my paternal grandma, when I was in college. She was basically the quintessential Sicilian grandma. She was passionate, and not at all shy about sharing her feelings. When we ticked her off, she let us know in no uncertain terms. Yet she was also an incredibly loving and indulgent grandma who must have driven our parents nuts, considering how she would spoil us and coddle us when we got in trouble. At Christmastime, she would make so many cookies it was ridiculous. Even though that side of the family is large, we couldn’t possibly eat all of them. I think about her cookies every single year, the ones she called “Volkswagen” cookies—because they were rounded and had a brightly colored powdered sugar glaze—and her “S” cookies, in particular. They were my favorites, and more than once I made myself sick from gorging on them. My memories of those cookies are so vivid that I once tasted an “S” cookie in a shop and burst into tears because they tasted so much like my grandma’s cookies.
Grandma and Grandpa Luteran, my maternal grandparents, were a part of my life up until August of this year, when I lost grandma. After they retired, they moved to a house in central Michigan, surrounded by woods, almost three hours away from where the rest of us lived. To spend time with us, they hosted big family gatherings, often with my mom and all four of her siblings and their families camping out around various parts of the house. My cousins and I spent many happy weekends there as kids, building forts, running around like a colony of ants, and getting into plenty of trouble together. Before we would leave for the long drive back home to the Detroit area, Grandpa would pull out his “goodie bag” and load us up with plenty of candy for the ride home—bet my parents loved that!
This is the barest sketch of my grandparents and what they meant to me, and I include it here because my favorite Christmas memory involves all three of them.
When my brother and I were kids, we were serious about Christmas. I’m three years older than him, and even though we used to fight like cats and dogs, we were united in our determination to get up as early as humanly possible on Christmas Day, the better to tear into the gifts Santa would leave us. To achieve this, we would take turns spending Christmas Eve in one another’s bedrooms, one of us on the floor, the other in bed. We would talk excitedly late into the night, speculating about what we would get and wondering how early we dared try to pry our parents from bed. Eventually, our parents set a strict rule that we could not get them up before seven o’clock, and we were NOT to peek under the tree and spoil the surprise. This was like torture to us, so we would suffer through it together, counting the minutes until our alarm clock switched over to seven and we could demand that our parents get out of bed.
One year, all three of our grandparents stayed at our house on Christmas Eve. They always got along very well, and that Christmas morning was like a kids’ dream. They were all early risers as it was, so when my brother and I ventured out to see if our grandparents were awake, we found all three of them waiting for us. Grandma Ciacchella was making coffee with Grandma Luteran’s assistance, which was awesome, since our parents insisted we couldn’t start opening gifts until the coffee was made and they were both supplied with mugs. Grandpa Luteran was as gleeful as a kid himself. I can count on one hand the number of times I saw him in pajamas, but he was still in them that morning, what little hair he had standing on end as he urged us to go get our parents up. The problem was, it wasn’t yet seven o’clock, so my brother and I balked and said it was against the rules. Grandma Ciacchella was having none of that, and insisted that we go get them up. Grandpa and Grandma Luteran agreed, so, overjoyed, my brother and I went crashing into our parents’ room.
What could they say? Not only were their kids jumping on their bed, we were under our grandparents’ strict instructions to do so, and my mom and dad both knew there’s no saying no to your parents. It was pure bliss, ripping into our gifts while our parents sat, bleary-eyed, on the couch, and our grandparents whipped us into a frenzy.
I think about that Christmas every year. It was so obvious to me how happy my grandparents were to be with their grandkids, and how excited they were to watch us open our gifts. Plus, it’s always fun when your grandparents conspire with you against your parents—my own kids can attest to that.
That memory is precious to me, and it’s one I’ll hold dear for the rest of my life. Who knows, maybe some years from now I’ll be in that same position, and you can bet that if my grandkids hesitate to wake their parents up, I’ll be goading them into it, just as my grandparents did with me.
Know what another of my favorite things is? Books, of course! So to spread some cheer this holiday season, I’m offering up four of mine on Instafreebie. Feel free to snap them all up by clicking this link: https://www.instafreebie.com/author/nicole_ciacchella
Happy reading, and may 2017 bring you nothing but good things!
Nicole has progressed from scribbling in notebooks to banging on keyboards, but she’s never managed to stop daydreaming at inappropriate moments.
Born and raised in Michigan, Nicole lives there still with her husband and two wonderful children. When not answering the demands of her characters, Nicole can often be found curled up with a good book or spending far too many hours acting the hero in whatever video game is her obsession of the moment.
Nicole rarely meets a genre she doesn’t like, and as a result has written contemporary romcoms, fantasy fiction, fairy tale retellings, and dystopian/post-apocalyptic fiction. She’s the author of the Fairytale Collection books, the YA/NA crossover Contributor trilogy, and the Astoran Asunder series.