Gone Fishin’ For Christmas

Christmas is such a wonderful time of the year! To celebrate the season, each Friday during the month of December I’ll be sharing a special Christmas story. We begin this week with a true story from Jan’s mom.

The year was 1936.

Jan’s mom, or Damie as the kids call her, was just five years old.

For the little girl growing up in Minnesota during the Great Depression, it will always be remembered as the year that Grandma died.

Grandma had eleven children, some married with families of their own, others still living at home when she died.

She had been the matriarch of the family and her absence was most keenly felt as Christmas approached.

She did the baking, the decorating,  and – most importantly to a five year old – the gift buying.

The family would gather at the traditional Swedish Christmas Eve Service at midnight, followed by a trip to Grandpa and Grandma’s house for thick black coffee and the Swedish treats that Grandma had spent weeks making.

What would Christmas be like without Grandma?

Grandpa felt the loss most of all, but despite his pain, he knew that he didn’t want his grandchildren to remember this Christmas with sadness. He wanted to make it a special time.

As the cold December days passed, he made a plan. After a trip to the local dime store and then to the barn for the needed supplies, he was ready.

Finally the big day arrived and the family gathered.

The aunts had done the decorating and pulled together hot coffee and a feast of goodies, but grandma’s absence was keenly felt.

Grandpa slipped out of the room and quietly hung a sheet in the doorway.

He came back in holding a fishing pole with a bag attached to the end and called the grandchildren to gather around.

He explained that each one would get a turn to fish in “Grandpa’s Fish Pond” and see what they could catch. Then he quietly slipped behind the sheet.

Their eyes grew large as one by one each grandchild grabbed the pole and lowered the bag over the side of the sheet and pulled it back.

They had each caught a gift!

It wasn’t anything fancy or expensive, it was just a little something from the dime store. But the fun they had “catching” their gift made it extra wonderful!

With shining eyes they held that gift tightly while tucking the memory of that special Christmas into their hearts.

Damie has included a fish pond in our own family Christmas celebration for several years now.

And every year as we watch the shining eyes of the grandchildren “fish” for their gifts, we are reminded of that first Christmas Fish Pond, when Great-Grandpa looked beyond his own grief to make a special Christmas for those he loved.