It was the first day in December when mom got a call from Grandpa. “How’s my favorite grandson doing on this beautiful day?” Mom told him I was bored to tears with my broken leg and wanting something special to do.
“Well then we’ll just have to manufacture special for him won’t we. Your Mom and I will be there in an hour to whisk you both away.” With that Grandpa was off the phone. I was his only grandson, and I loved my grandparents deeply, but I couldn’t see how even he could make a boring day with a broken leg fun.
He showed up with a shiny wheelchair with green and red ribbons on it and announced we were going shopping. I didn’t get excited because Mom had a strict rule about no toys the month of Christmas, or it might ruin the presents under the tree.
Soon we were all in the car and headed to our favorite shopping area. Grandpa pushed me around the bookstore, toy store, electronics store, game shop, and any where I wanted to go. We got coffee with a lot of sugar, two ice cream cones, and waited on Mom and Grandma at every clothing store that shopping center had.
I thought it was time to go home when Grandpa announced we had one more stop to make. I laughed when I saw what it was. Grandpa is an artist, and he loves to paint, so when we rolled into the local art shop I was not really surprised. What did surprise me was where he went too this time.
Grandpa passed all the usual stuff and went to the pen section. He found two matching, ordinary looking black fountain pens, bought two bottles of ink in shiny wrappers, some packs of paper and we left. He didn’t really say too much about it until we got home.
“My boy, let’s open our Christmas Pens, we’ve got some things to do.” He took out the black fountain pens, filled them with ink, and handed me one. Then he opened the cream colored paper and handed me a little leather portfolio he’d brought from home.
“This is a Christmas Pen, it’s filled with a shiny green and red ink. Your job is to write me something about Christmas every day for 25 days. I’ll do the same, and we’ll compare on Christmas Day. “Now don’t take the easy route. I’d hate for everyone to say your old Grandpa out did you on imagination.”
I don’t think Grandpa had a competitive bone in his body, but he knew I did. He figured if it was a challenge, I’d spend every moment trying to do my best. He also knew something I didn’t, that if I was focused on the writing I’d forget about my broken leg.
He’d come by every Saturday and we’d compare notes. Stories, drawings, letters, and all the different silliness we both wrote. It wasn’t about what we were writing, but who we were writing it for. By Christmas Day I was out of my cast, but still writing, and so was Grandpa. On top of our other gifts, we each handed the other a portfolio filled with paper and ink.
We each spent an hour or so reading the other’s stories to the family. All of us laughing at our ideas and a few mistakes. It wasn’t that any of the stories, his or mine were unforgettable, but the experience was. Grandpa taught me something that Christmas, to invest in your loved ones a word at a time.
He has never let a moment to be kind go unspoken. He’s never wasted a hug, or ignored a tear. As a result he’s taught our family how special each day is. It’s something that I’m trying to pass along to my young ones now, and Grandpa loves them just as much as he loved me.
We kept up the tradition too. Oh not something everyday of December, but at least one Christmas letter every season, with our Christmas Pen, filled with shiny ink. It’s a wonderful way to say Merry Christmas, and I love you very much!