Lee Walker Gendusa mug

Lee Walker Gendusa

The Thanksgiving turkey is consumed, the visiting relatives and friends have left the building and now Santa is heading to town!

I know I must be related to Santa Claus, because I have visions of sugar plums and hot cocoa dancing in my head. I truthfully don’t like either one, but that’s okay, because I play “make believe” along with the rest of the toddlers out there.

My love for the Christmas season began early. My grandparents sprinkled the magic dust of Christmas on me as a baby, so I really can’t help this obsession with all things sparkly, merry and bright.

When I was about four years old, I recall a Christmas which was so enchanting it seems as if it happened just yesterday instead of over 66 years ago.

It was our turn to host my magical grandparents at Christmas. They both made sure they spread their joy to their three children and grandchildren by alternating visits to spend a Christmas with each family. That year we were the ones blessed with their amazing presence.

I awoke to find Santa gave me all the things I had wished for. I squealed in delight so much I annoyed my older brother, who was the ripe old age of ten and knew everything there was to know about anything! However, when I gazed at my grandparents, my grandmother (a.k.a. Grandpa) would laugh at each shrill of my shrieks.

My grandfather was the tallest man I ever knew. He was over six feet tall and for a family mostly consisting of shorter folks, he was a giant in my four-year-old eyes. He carried a pipe filled with Prince Albert tobacco and wore his pocket watch to tell us what time of day it was. He always stood perfectly erect as if he were standing at attention, and in his doing so, one knew to respect his authority. He was a brave man who used his enormous intellect to provide for his family at all costs and make sure he had enough money left to keep the candy dish filled with peppermint sticks for his grandchildren.

My grandmother always was amazed he had noticed her when she was 18 because she thought he was the most handsome man around while she considered herself the homeliest. Of course, he saw what we saw in Grandpa: The most beautiful person on earth.

He reached under the tree and retrieved the biggest box I had ever seen. “Who’s that for, Granddaddy?” I asked.

“Well, let’s see what the tag says,” looking puzzled. “It says, ‘to Lynn, from me!”

My eyes widened, and again I shrieked and clapped my hands, because I had never seen such a huge present, plus, I had never received a gift just from Granddaddy.

I took off the curly bow and quickly ripped the paper. Mama always said I could tear into a package like no one she had ever seen, and to this day I am still an expert at such a skill.

I opened the white box and what lay inside still gives me chills as I write this. Wrapped in white tissue was a three-foot-tall bride doll. Her white dress was made of satin, lace and jewels. Her crown of white plastic and rhinestones was attached to a veil that fell below her waist. Her yellow hair framed her rosy cheeks, and my tears fell on her shoulders as I hugged her.

Grandpa exclaimed, “Honey, he saw that doll in the window, walked into the store without saying a word, and declared, ‘I am giving this to Lynn for Christmas!’”

Over 40 years later, I finally took the doll I had treasured out of her safe place and gave her to a little girl who was not as blessed as I had been as a child.

The magical grandparents who sprinkled Christmas dust in our souls and filled us with wonder left long ago. My grandfather passed away the year I graduated from high school, but because he loved so intently, I can still smell the Prince Albert tobacco mixed with a hint of peppermint and see the old pocket watch ticking time away. I can see the tree warm with color, the bride doll’s sparkling tiara and hear my grandmother’s laughter.

Sometimes, a gift is more than a package, more than a trip to the store and more than mere words can express. Sometimes a present becomes magical because it is wrapped in pure love.

As we approach the Christmas season, I hope you will find a little Christmas magic. May you become like a child again, believing in the spirit of Christmas and shriek with excitement as you fill someone’s heart with everlasting wonder and joy.

Lynn Walker Gendusa is a columnist from Roswell and the author of “it’s all WRITE with me!”