Christmas Decorating Part 3: The Nativity Set; or Goodbye to Grandma

I traded my cousin Chris the black jelly beans from my ’83 Easter basket for his football card collection and his electronic Donkey Kong game.  Chris, proud of his jellybeans, showed grandma.

“Jimmy!  I counted every one of those jelly beans so all the kids had the exact same amount!”

So I traded the jelly beans back to Chris and only kept the football cards.

Grandpa Jim died in ’75 and she got a job in a department store and took up painting ceramics.  She gave me a frog with a big frown and bigger eyes so I could have a place to put my glasses at night.  The frog went on my nightstand, next to my cup of water.  I couldn’t get my glasses to balance on the frog.

This frog still doesn't hold my glasses, but it does still sit on my nightstand. It says, 'MG' on the bottom for "Mary Gutzman"

In ’86, she gave my parents some fragile Easter baskets and eggs she painted.  I broke my favorite Easter basket in June of ’86.  She gave my parents a gray donkeyed nativity set in ’88.  I wasn’t allowed to touch it.

Muggers stole her purse from in front of her house in ’91.  They knocked her over, she hit her head on the concrete, and she lost most of her sense of taste and smell.  She could sort of taste the slathered sauce of the McRib.

She moved in with my parents in ’95 and bought a Chevy Sprint.  She frequently stopped at red lights.

I visited grandma on the way back from snowboarding in ’97.  I bought her a light blue hat and took her to lunch.  The waitress complimented her on the hat.

Dementia held her for a bit in the early 2000’s.  She asked for Jim.  I came, but she meant her husband.  She moved into a home with five other old ladies who passed time by bickering and remembering.  Dad visited her most days for the better part of ten years.

Grandma and me, hanging out in Christmas of '09.

She met Zach for the first time last month on her 97th birthday.  She looked tired and thinner.  The dementia dissipated that day and she was clear to talk about the time I bought her a hat and what a hit it was with the ladies.  She enjoyed her McRib, so savory and tangy.

Zach touched her face and she was delighted that he liked her (I didn't have the heart to tell her that he was probably wiping up some McRib sauce).

We came back to Wichita and set up our nativity set…

Grandma's Nativity Set; Now on Our Shelf

just before we went back to LA for her funeral this week.

About Jimmy

The stories herein are about a sentimental 80s child who cried at every showing of ET (the sad part where he was lying in the wash) and his families, then and now. His wife, son, parents, and siblings play their parts well. They have their exits and their entrances. Sometimes their exits are sad, but not as sad as ET.
This entry was posted in fatherhood, Life, memoir, Nostalgia and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Christmas Decorating Part 3: The Nativity Set; or Goodbye to Grandma

  1. inkline says:

    We can tell Zach about the time he met his great-grandma Mary when he asks why he can’t play with the nativity set. And then the next year we’ll give it to him and his wife for their home.

  2. Dianna says:

    My condolences on the loss of your grandmother. How special that she was able to meet Zach, and that you were allowed to “have her” for that visit. Sadly, your wife’s comment above is too true.

    • Jimmy says:

      I know it more and more with each passing year. Every year I resolve to focus on and enjoy the moment I’m in. And every year passes by more quickly!

  3. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    I’m sad! You were a dear, dear grandson. And you have wonderful memories to share with your children.

  4. Toni Mann says:

    Loved reading the memories. We’re so blessed to have them.

  5. Adrienne says:

    What a treasure to have, to enjoy and to pass on. Such sweet memories and so well expressed – as usual!

  6. Random question, but have you seen the movie “King of Kong: A fistful of quarters”? It is a documentary about two people competing against one another for the Donkey Kong world record.

    • Jimmy says:

      I have seen that documentary and loved it; especially the faux celebrity who thought the whole world was watching his video game exploits (the one who had the world record at the beginning of the movie, not the one from the northwest). I believe I had similar visions of grandeur when word of my mad Legend of Zelda skills spread across my Jr High campus. It seemed that I couldn’t go more than four or five days without someone accosting me to ask where the secret red ring or magic whistle was.

      Alas, I learned all too young that fame is fleeting and you have to rely on your baseball card collection for meaning in life.

      The Donkey Kong game I referred to was a small hand-held one with pong-like graphics and an unreliable jump button. Boy, I loved that thing almost as much as my Tomy Sky Attack game.

  7. societyred says:

    Hi Jimmy,
    Thanks for visiting my site and liking my little story. I’m so glad you did because now I can read your collection. Your trifecta of Christmas cheer has brightened my day-thank you! My kids are 80’s kids like you; your posts really hit home. My son was He-Man on Halloween 4 years in a row…I…have…the power! Again, thank you.

    • Jimmy says:

      I was fortunate enough to grow up near Universal Studios Hollywood and got to see the REAL He-Man and Skeletor. I’m looking at rebuilding my He-Man collection now via eBay. I wish I had kept those toys.

      You spin a good yarn and I’ll be back on your site.

  8. Yatin says:

    Your Grandma left some memories for you. Seems like you are more attached to her, 97 years is a long time. I know it’s hard to cope with a loss of loved one. Been there & know the feeling. I am sure she must have shared lot of stories with you. Even reading 92% of them would be interesting. Keep your Grandma alive in your stories. Looking forward to read them. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  9. auntyuta says:

    It’s just wonderful the way you write about your Grandma. She’s going to live on in your stories.Thanks for sharing your memories!

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