Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Twinkly Wrinkles

♫ It's always fun when Grandpa comes,
When Grandpa comes, hooray!
He always says the kindest things,
And in the kindest way. ♫
He has a wrinkly, twinkly smile,
♫ He's jolly all the day . . .
It's always fun for everyone
When Grandpa comes. ♫

And when does he come? On Christmas! When I remember Christmas Past, my grandpas are always there.

Christmas 1959

Grandpa Lundgren lived in a gingerbread kitchen with Grandma and his dog, Tuffy. Of course, there was more to their house than the kitchen, but in the winter, that's the room that warmed me in spite of the cold linoleum floor.

Mormon grandpas don't usually drink coffee, but my grandpa did, and he dipped sugar cubes in his cup and popped them on my tongue when Mom wasn't around. I'd learned in Sunday School that we shouldn't smoke, or drink alcohol, tea or coffee. So I asked, "Why does Grandpa drink coffee?" Mom replied, "Well, he's Swedish." (I guess they got a special dispensation.)

Dinner at Grandma's 1960

I knew I was Grandpa Bagley's favorite because I was left-handed. (Sorry everyone, but I was.) For Christmas dinner he set our places with the silverware backwards and then he and I sat next to each other admiring how skilled we were in a right-handed world. Grandma bragged about his left-handed penmanship and showed me the love letters he'd sent her before they were married.

A letter to Adelila from Hawley, sent in 1918.

My Loving Sweetheart and Little Pet:

I get so used to receiving notes from you everyday, that I was lost when one failed to arrive this morning. Lover, I can't help missing them, but pet, it's now only a little over a week until we will be together again.

Darling, I don't know how I'll act to see you once more. I never supposed a man could miss anyone on earth like I have missed you. Do you get tired of me writing nothing but this same old stuff every time? Lover, I'm afraid you might sometimes, but there is nothing here to write about.

With a whole heart full of love, kisses, and a big squeeze,
I am always your only,

She was twenty years old, teaching school for $60 a month in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, and he was seventeen, starting law school at the University of Utah.

I was lucky to know both my grandpas, but I didn't learn all they had to teach me. That's why I was thrilled when Erin Bried sent me her new book: How to Build a Fire, and Other Handy Things Your Grandfather Knew.

Erin interviewed grandfathers across the country, all of whom survived the Great Depression and served during World War II, to discover some essential life skills. Her book has fabulous chapters on:
  • How to split firewood
  • How to read animal tracks
  • How to paint a room
  • How to strip wooden furniture
  • How to change the oil
  • How to comfort a loved one
  • How to bounce back after failure
  • How to get a raise
  • How to find self-confidence
  • How to shake hands
  • How to shoot pool
  • How to iron a shirt
  • How to banish monsters under the bed
  • How to make beef jerky
  • How to make root beer
  • How to play the harmonica
  • How to apologize
  • and lots more
Everything you've wanted to know but had no one to ask.

These guys were proud to share their amazing stories and incredible advice. One of the grandfathers told Erin, "Modesty is overrated."

If you have a grandpa come over for Christmas, ask him how he shines his shoes. If you are a grandpa, show off your turkey carving skills. And if you need some great pointers, give somebody Erin's book.

Grandpas know how to put a twinkle in a wrinkle!


Christie said...

Oh, that letter! I can't fathom a man sending me something so gushy and sweet. Josh definitely didn't get that gene. :-)

Diane said...

Great memories. I think I need that book...

mama jo said...

love this post..i haven't seen those pictures..haven't seen gr. lundgren since i was 3...