So today, I found a Christmas card…


My grandmother’s name was Jewell and she was as beautiful as her name. She was pretty as a pin up girl back in the day.

She called me Karen although my name was Diana Lynn. Some people find that strange, but it made me feel special. She’d wanted my mom to name me Karen and when she didn’t, Granny rolled with it anyway with her stubborn southern belle behavior and I loved it.

I have ten grandchildren and under protest, I’ve turned into the cash cow Grandy at Christmas. Much to my chagrin, my now double digit aged grandchildren prefer the green stuff to boxes with pretty bows. I’m told that cash is always good, nobody ever has to return it and it never goes out of style. Whatever…I still prefer giving something personal, so I do both. A little something to remember me by and some twenty dollar bills to boot.

After robbing the ATM of a stack of 20s, I went on a search for money envelopes among my Christmas wrappings. I found a box of unused Christmas cards that belonged to Granny. My husband complained for years about saving stuff like this, but now I’m happy I stood my ground. I not only gave each grandchild cash, but a vintage Christmas card from their great great grandmother as well.

Granny taught me many things, some significant, some not. She was a lady, a southern belle from the deep south transplanted to the Washington, D.C. area and retired from the Pentagon. She gave me an appreciation of all things ladylike.

She always used a letter opener, a habit I picked up from her. Ragged edges on an envelope are just plain annoying.

She remains a frequent visitor in my home although she passed away in 1994. Porcelain Christmas bells, crystal swans, and a big white ceramic lighted Christmas tree that must be sixty years old adorn my holiday decor. The swans get to hang out all year.

When I was 13 years old, she fussed at me to I quit biting my nails and gave me a nice leather case manicure set. It didn’t help, but when my home economics teacher gave out a test grade every Friday in the form of a manicure check, I tried to quit. “Anyone that sees Rodgers with her fingers in her mouth has my permission to hit her!” The teacher would be fired for that statement today, but back then, I found the grit to quit. I was counting on an easy A in Home Ec to balance out a not so great grade in algebra.

Granny gave me my first tiara. I was a majorette and having a tiara to go with my sequined outfit as I performed made me feel I had arrived. I think it made me twirl a little better teaching me that looking my best, helped me to do my best.

She loved swans, hated snow, and cheered for the Redskins every Sunday. She fussed at them in an unladylike southern belle tone when they dropped the ball.

She had the “shiny gene.” She loved all things that glittered, like chandeliers, crystal glassware, etc. She favored swans and cardinals and the phlox in her rock garden. I didn’t get the shiny gene, but my mom and sister did. I have phlox in my backyard that she would love.

When she died, I remember thinking there was now one less person in the world that thought I was special, and I was right.

But most of all, Granny taught me that the best thing I can give my grandchildren is unconditional love and memories. No amount of cash can buy that.




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