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Katie Garner column: Remembering Nana this holiday season

By Katie Garner
For the Salisbury Post
SALISBURY – Well, here were are, the holiday season is among us. How wonderful is that? The holidays are such a fun time of the year, it just feels like the holidays right now, like there’s something in the air! I personally get so excited this time of year, because there are so many things going on, and I give myself full permission to “carry a little holiday weight until Jan. 1.” I make no apologies.This year is a little different than last year. This year, my sweet Nana won’t be with me on Thanksgiving or Christmas. My Nana died in July, and that was the worst day of my life. I remember the first thought that crossed my mind was, “What will Christmas be like?” I have a hole in my heart each time I hear Christmas music, but then I feel an instant peace overwhelm me. I know its Nana saying, “I’m partying upstairs; you have fun down there! Tell everyone I love them. See you soon!”
A few holiday memories come to mind when I think of earlier years, when the whole family was together. Memories that leave me laughing until I can’t breathe. See, we Garners spent every Christmas working on Project Santa and then going to Nana’s on Christmas Day. It’s a whole lotta family spending a whole lotta time together! I just love it! I’ll never forget Christmas ’09. We were all in Nana’s sunroom opening gifts, but apparently there just wasn’t enough ambiance in the room. Nana decided to light a candle, which then lit the giftwrap on the tablecloth. You get the idea … a minor house fire broke out. Whatever – there was ambiance, and that’s what mattered. Also, Christmas ’98, when all of my cousins and I were in Nana’s kitchen waiting for breakfast on Dec. 26. Nana quickly realized that she was out of milk, but her grandchildren wanted pancakes, and so without raising an eyebrow, she poured some stiff eggnog right into that pancake mix. BAM – we had pancakes … and so much more.
Christmas each year was so much fun when I would go to Nana’s for lunch. She would always say “Katie Belle, let’s decorate the tree.” Then she promptly picked up her cell phone, made a call, and boom, there was a crew there to decorate the tree, as we watched with our cookies, and home videos in the background. We played board games, and watched as the tree was decorated before our eyes!
I’ll never forget Christmas of last year, the carolers from First Baptist Church always came to sing for the neighborhood. They arrived at Nana’s just as I arrived to take a break from Project Santa. “Nana, the carolers are here!” I said, and she responded by opening the front door, donating some cookies and cash, and then we got right back to our game of Rummicube with our glass of eggnog on the sun porch, listening to the carolers in the background!
I’ll never ever forget the Christmas of ’98. My sister and I were the only girls in the family at the time. My Nana buys all of the gifts, and most years did an incredible job, however this year was just embarrassing! So embarrassing that I have yet to live it down! Let me start by saying that my sister was a mere 4-year-old, and I was all of 10 years old. All of the cousins opened gifts together. The five boys got trucks, Legos, footballs, fun things. Me, oh no, I got a bra and a pair of granny panties. I have yet to live that down, and didn’t use the bra for another five years. Glad I had a head start. (Not!)
Yeah, I miss Nana. I can’t even breathe sometimes when her face comes to mind. I find myself calling her at least once a week just to hear her voice on the machine. I left a message the other day by accident: “Just calling to say I love you Nana. See you in a few weeks for Thanksgiving.” Nana was the one person I could say anything to. We have spent hours on her porch talking about anything. She was a great listener. You looked at her and saw Christ. She was an incredible person, so giving and so selfless. I miss her more than I can put into words, but mostly I want to thank her for showing me what it means to be a true woman of faith, and to put others first. I will continue to put the values,and traditions she left me with to work this Christmas, and every Christmas for the rest of my life. If you’ve lost a loved one, I think the best thing you can do is take every good memory they left you with and put it to use. That way, they live on within you, forever. It’s a beautiful thing. So again, I love you Nana, see you in a few weeks as we remember you throughout this holiday season! I hope if you’ve lost a loved one, you remember them in your holiday traditions. Life is short but so sweet. Enjoy Thanksgiving/Christmas!

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