But this morning, I decided electronic letters are just as unexpected and wonderful as the real thing, because I received my favorite online Christmas newsletter to date! It was from my paternal grandparents (it was their first electronic newsletter, and they did a great job).
This past summer they did something they knew they would have to do --they sold their home and moved into an assisted living center. Emotionally, it was hard for the entire family. They have lived in the same house (in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada) for more than 50 years (they've been married for 63 years) and all my memories of them are tied to that house. My grandfather was an award winning gardener, my grandmother was (is!) an amazing cook. We spent hours tromping around their backyard climbing the crab-apple tree, hiding under grandpa's workbench in the garage, playing in the sandbox, playing "detective" with the cousins in the back alleyways. Their basement was a child's dream! Toys, chalkboard, games, lots of places to hide, and NO television (that worked).
Their home was humble (very small compared to what people would consider an adequate house now-a-days), but it was full of laughter and love.
But we knew they couldn't last. There were too many stairs. In the winter, the detached garage was too far from the house. Grandma and Grandpa have gotten older.
And so, the house was sold and they moved. I would be lying if I said it really bothered me much. I was sad, yes, because of all the memories, but I was very glad --I care way too much for Grandma and Grandpa and their health to ever assume a house meant more to me than they do.
My greatest joy: They are still alive. They are doing well. They are safe. They live closer to my uncle, now. They are some of the greatest examples of love and service I have ever had the privilege of knowing!
Excerpt from my Grandma's electronic Christmas newsletter:
"...Sixty-three years have gone by so quickly. We have had a good life mainly because we have tried to live The Gospel, which teaches us the true way to happiness.When I think about everything my grandparents have given me over the course of my life, I realized that the greatest gift they passed on was their testimony. Such quiet strength, such determined service. If I can keep my testimony and my faith as strong as they have kept theirs, I think I'll be pretty well off.
Our memories of Christmases past when we were together; the back yard picnics with family and friends; sharing of talents with which we were blessed and then seeing the family grow step by step. They are so special. Each one of you is so precious to us. Being active in the Church is our way of life. That is how we say thanks to our Heavenly Father for all He has done for us. The Christmas season gives us the opportunity to let our thoughts and actions centre more on the Savior. He was the first gift from our Father in Heaven. No matter what we do we can never fully repay Him. Everything we do that is good, we are blessed for. Thus we are always in His debt."
I love you, Grandma and Grandpa. I miss you, too. I promise to get up to Alberta this summer to see you!
Photo of them in front of their house just after they sold it: