Every year around Christmas I think about the gift my maternal grandparents gave me. It's not just a gift that was given to me, but it was given to each of their six children,15 grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren they had. It was the gift of fidelity and commitment.
Growing up, holidays were a special time. We'd gather at my grandparents house after Easter service for fun, family time and good food. My grandparents were from New Orleans so there was always good food. Then there were the backyard barbeques for 4th of July and the sweet Christmas gatherings--my favorite. Their house was always decorated with a small tree and lights and my grandmother always had special treats sitting out on the living room coffee tables. Thinking of it now makes me homesick for my childhood days. There was so much joy, laughter and togetherness.
And all of it was possible because my grandparents "stuck" it out for 50+ years of marriage. Not just the white-knuckling grin and bear it sticking it out, but the kind that says: marriage is hard, but we're in it together for the long haul. Without their commitment there would have been two households to visit on holidays, maybe even step-grandparents in the mix. Not that there is anything wrong with stepfamilies, but there are complications that come with them. Instead, their marriage cast a vision for their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and created unity.
In a world where "irreconcilable differences" can dissolve a marriage faster than it was put together and where feelings trump commitment, my grandparents marriage (as imperfect as it may have been) was a beacon for so many. They left us such a rich tradition that brings to mind the best memories.
Though my grandparents are no longer here (my grandfather passed in 1994 and my grandmother in 2012), I think of them often during the holidays. Thank you Grannie and Gramps for giving me a gift that couldn't be wrapped up and put under a tree, but one that still lives on years after your deaths. Thank you for the overflowing display of marital love that you fully showcased for us all.