We moved around a lot when I was young, but by the time that I was three years old, we’d settled into a little yellow cape cod on a suburban cul-de-sac in New Jersey. My dad commuted over the bridge into the city each day for work. My mom taught piano lessons in our living room and worked herself into the plow position with her girlfriends on the Oriental rug.
In the summer my sister and I climbed trees, rode our bikes, and ran through the sprinklers in the front yard. In the fall I walked to school, on a trail that someone had named the Pony Path. But as soon as the temperature dipped just a bit, my thoughts turned directly to Christmas.
Christmas meant Virginia. And grandparents. And more love than one child could ever hold onto.
Each Christmas, my parents packed up the car and drove us South – below the Mason-Dixon line – to the state where they’d both grown up. After hours of driving, we’d pull up in front of my grandparents’ house, my mom and dad weary from traveling so far. No matter what time of day we arrived, my grandmother would fling open the door and come running to greet us. Her arms spread wide, my grandmother called to us as she ran to the sidewalk to squeeze us tight. Each time I thought my heart would burst wide open from all the love that she poured in it.
I thought surely one day the love would just spill out all over the sidewalk and folks would have to step around it on their way to work on Monday. They’d shake their heads and glance up at the porch there where my grandparents lived. They’d say to one another, “Ida’s children must be home again. Looks as if they brought the grandchildren, too. Just look at all that love piled up here on this sidewalk! More love than one child could ever hold onto!”
Inside, I’d sit at the kitchen table with the chrome legs and formica top that was flecked with spots of color on a white background. On the stove, a dollop of sweet cream butter melted its way to the bottom of a pan of White House applesauce that burped slow bubbles over a soft blue flame. I’d swing my legs and rest my chin on my hands on the top of that table. I don’t know if we talked or not, or if it was good enough just to be there – sharing space with my grandmother and her love.
On Christmas Eve, she’d tuck me into bed beneath a window that looked out onto the alley in back. I’d wait until she’d kissed my forehead and shut the door behind her, then I’d scramble up onto my knees and press my forehead to the glass, and watch for shooting stars that might streak a path across the night. At first light I’d spring from bed and wake the house with fits of joy, then tumble down the staircase into one more Christmas morn.
It was extravagant.
All day long the love dripped from the ceilings and crammed its way into the corners and spilled out from beneath the tree in circles that were piled up high. And it seeped down into the marrow of my bones and found a home and still, it was far more than one child could hold onto. I tried to catch my breath and wondered at the miracle of love so great as this.
One year, on that trip across the highways to Virginia, we breezed past suburbs and bungalows on cul-de-sacs with tiny, sparkling, colored lights glowing and twinkling and dancing as we passed by. It was late and dark and we’d been riding for awhile in silence. But then, my mother exhaled deep and turned from the glass to face us in the darkness of the car. A band of light reflected across my dad’s eyes as he drove us and he watched my mother as she said, “Do you see all of the beautiful lights? Aren’t they just beautiful?” And I remember nodding and thinking that I especially liked the white lights that hung across the garage door we had just passed by. I remember thinking that the world was filled with wonder.
“You know,” my mother said, “we wouldn’t have all of this if it hadn’t been for Jesus.”
I thought that she just meant the lights. We wouldn’t have the lights if it hadn’t been for Jesus. But what she meant was all of it. The love piled up on the sidewalk while applesauce cooked on the stove. The love shared at the kitchen table and the window that looked out over the alley while stars left streaks across the sky. The kisses on my forehead and the love that dripped down from the ceiling and Light to shine and lead the way.
We wouldn’t have this extravagant Love that reaches for us in the dark and fills up our hearts and seeps into our marrow and makes us press our foreheads to the glass to search for light across the sky.
By Deidra, jumping tandemLeave a Comment
Lisa H says
You have just described the Christmas’ that I have dreamed of my whole life! It won’t happen that way for me and it hasnt happened that way for my children either. But I still keep dreaming one day it will! The packing up and traveling to someone’s home or having someone pack up and come to my home! My children do not know my parents, my grandmother died 20 years ago so they do not know her. The grandparents that are a part of their lives is their Father’s (my exhusband) family and he doesn’t want me to take them to see them either-he says its not my place to do that. But he wont take them either. They dont want me to bring them yet in hopes that their son will come around again to them. Knowing if I come up that will stop that from happening. But they miss their grands! Hopefully that will all change in the coming years. It was nice to read your words and think of the dream again that I have dreamed year after year, even now at the age of 40!
So I am building our own memories this year as best I can!
I am dreaming and praying right along with you!
And know this…your children know the great love that you have for them. The memories you give to them are treasures. Rich gifts wrapped in light and joy. And always – every day – Jesus is right there with you. Right in the middle of it all. Laughing and cheering you on. Every step of the way.
Holley Gerth says
Oh, Deidra, your words, the way you see the world, how you bring truth to us and make it seem brand new. Thank you. I’ve known this kind of love from grandparents too–the “Jesus with skin on” kind. I’m so glad we got to meet so I can know what it’s like to really hug you–makes me wish I could again this morning!!
It’s good to know love, isn’t it? It’s the gift I wish for everyone this Christmas – love piled up on sidewalks all across the world. I’m feeling your cyber-hug, my friend, and I am squeezing you right back!
Thank you so much for sharing this, it reminds me of what I need to be for my children. The memories we hold shape us into the people we are today and I’m grateful to have met someone such as yourself to remind me. May joy and love come to you this Holiday season and beyon…, more than you can handle.
Lisa @ Lesapea xx
You have been a gift to me this year. And your love for your family is rich and true. You are making wonderful memories with them, and leaving a beautiful legacy of love. Yes…we’ve all received more love than any of us can possibly handle. That one little baby wrapped in rags and sleeping in hay. More love…
Happy holidays to all at (in)courage, thank you for featuring Deidra.
Lisa @ Lesapea
Good Morning Mommy’s Big Baby,
Every time I read what youv’e written, I think, “It just can’t get to me more than this”; but each time I find you’ve taken my breath away again. (The blurs on this comment are just tear stains.)
I’m amazed at what your litlle ears, eyes and heart absorbed all of those years. What a lesson to us parents and grandparents as we interact with those litle lives, by God’s grace, we are allowed to continue to touch.
I love you so much.
You and daddy made rich and precious memories with us when we were growing up. There’s no way anyone can top them. Except, of course, for Jesus and you’re the one who introduced me to Him. So…I am doubly blessed!
My first son has just gotten married and the other 2 will follow within the next few years. When they have children, I want to be like your grandmother!!!!!! Thanks for “painting” her picture. I want love to pile up on my sidewalk and inside my home for them…and all who enter!
We’re so fortunate. We get to shower our children with love and light and joy and hope. And then they get to pass it on – to their spouses first and then to their own children. It is a blessing, indeed!
I Live in an Antbed says
THAT IS STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL!! As we anticipate the birth of our very first grandchild, I want to create this feeling for this one and, hopefully, many, many more. And the most precious thing of all is that I know they will all grow up being pointed to Jesus as the Source for all the Love. It also makes me think, though, of those who don’t have this experience around the holidays. May we who have been loved so well be His conduit of Love for all those we brush against. Today, may the Lord grant me that opportunity to let our “piles of Love” spill over into the lives of those hungry for a taste. And may they taste and see that He is Good!
Yes! Yes! I pray this gives hope to those who haven’t know love like this. I pray we get to be the ones to pile it up for them. I pray they’ll know the joy of receiving this great love, and then passing it on to someone else.
SO excited for the birth of your very first grandchild. That baby is already loved big and real. I can tell!
Lisa-Jo @thegypsymama says
I love that I get to read these first and then get to come back and enjoy everyone else’s reaction to them. This one is such a beauty, Deidra. A feast of holiday sights and sounds and feelings. Such a tribute to a family and the memories they made for their kids. And a reminder that Christmas really is about the relationships more than any presents we parents might worry about. Blessings on you and your family this year!
Wow. Where do I begin? You are such a gift, and not just to me. Your family, (in)courage, the internet, and all of social media – they all shine brighter because of you. And that’s just the beginning! This is just the beginning!
Rich blessings to you and to that sweet, sweet growing family of yours. Surely folks are stepping over the love in front of your house, on their way to your wide open front door.
Robin ~ PENSIEVE says
What a treasure-filled childhood, Deidra! You’ve painted the most beautiful picture of Christmas at its best, and it makes me think your parents are pretty special. Such a lovely legacy.
This kind of love is the embodiment of Christ, beyond full to overflow…splashing on everyone nearby. 🙂
Merry Christmas! xo
Merry Christmas, sweet Robin! You know, you yourself are a very special gift to this world. You walk through life just overflowing with compassion – yes, splashing it on everyone nearby. I am truly honored to be part of this team with you. You make my heart sing and my face smile big.
Amen. What a wonderfully heartfelt post for the Christmas season.
Wishing you a Christmas bursting with love, Ginger!
Kristen@Moms Sharpening Moms says
Deidra, YOU spill Jesus beauty and His amazing love all over our hearts every time you write. I’m so glad to know you through your words…hoping to do so one day in person!
I had a Grandmother like this, too, and I pray I’m that same kind of Mama and future Grandma myself!
Oh, and did you know I’m completely crazy about you? You are joyously merry and beautifully bright! Merry Christmas, friend!
You and I? We’ve got a love-fest going on, don’t we? You shine bright – your words, your heart! So blessed to have “met” you, my friend. So very blessed!
Deidra…. this was just incredible.
Thank you for sharing your heart and love like this.
Your words always (and I do mean always) minister so much. I am grateful for you. Merry Christmas!
Kelly Sauer says
Virginia was home to you too, was it? I – *grin* – love this.
I’ve lived in Virginia just six months of my entire life, but my stories all seem to be rooted right there. Those rolling hills seem to be jam packed with love!
i love this!
🙂 Merry Christmas to you!
Beautiful story …..I love they way you tell it….makes me feel like I’m driving in the car too on the way to Grandma’s. Have a very Merry Christmas!
I sure hope that one day you and I get to meet face to face. You have made me laugh out loud all throughout this year. I love you and the stories that you tell. Your courage made me feel strong as I followed your life in Germany. I’m so very glad God has caused our cyber paths to cross!
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Such lovely words and memories. Thank you so much for sharing your heart. Merry Christmas. 🙂
Merry Christmas to you, CJ!
Michelle DeRusha @ Graceful says
Sighing over the love and joy here, Deidra. You sure have a way of painting a beautiful picture with words. Thanks for cracking the door a bit for us to bask in the light of your grandmother’s love. Joy and peace to you and H this Christmas — SO grateful that you have blessed my life so much!
Our God gives big, doesn’t He? It amazes me that He entrusts this great love and His great story to us – to share with others. I’m so very glad for your gifts and the way you use them to make Him look good in this world.
Lisa Buffaloe says
Love this post! You have warmed my heart. So very beautiful and wonderful visual for 1 John 3:1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!
Yes, we are lavished, aren’t we? What a great word that is!
Sweet Deidra – I was blessed, still am blessed, by this kind of extravagant love. Thank you for putting it so perfectly into words. You are just gifted that way.
I am so thankful for the all too short time I got to spend with you. You are such a blessing.
Have another Christmas filled with extravagant love.
Your heart has made me smile over and over again this year. You GIVE this kind of extravagant love, my friend.
Merry Christmas to you!
Ida Mundell says
Ohh this was beautiful. Thank you for sharing your words and your heart.
You know your name won me over – right from the start. The same as my grandmother’s. There are not very many Idas in this world. I smiled, just reading your name.
Ida Mundell says
I have come to love my vintage name and am blessed in reading what a legacy, with your grandmother, that this old fashioned name has.
I’ve continued the vintage or different names with an Aurora and Eleanor of my own 🙂
Thank You for transporting me right into your childhood! What a rich treasure you were given! Jesus and drippy love! You are beautiful inside and out! So glad I could meet you in person!
“Drippy love.” Love that!
erin beth says
This is one of the most beautiful blog posts I’ve ever read. This fills me to the brim with hope that I can give my children and grandchildren something that people like to say isn’t realistic- Love so thick you can eat it with a spoon until your belly is full. I want my children and grandchildren to have memories like this. To remember our family like this. And to know without a doubt they are loved like this.
Oh my goodness! “Love so thick you can eat it with a spoon….”
How I love that image! It’s like ice cream!
I do imagine God’s love for us is so rich and thick that we don’t really even get it. But this image you’ve created with your words probably comes pretty close…
A grandmother’s love is certainly one of God’s greatest inventions! A beautiful post!