My maternal grandmother was Virginia Thode (Gigi) and today's holiday story is about her. She was the kind of grandmother that every kid dreams of. She made us noodles with catsup and bread crumbs (noodles with rusty) for dinner; she baked; she let me have coffee with lots of sugar and cream at her coffee clutch even when I was ten; she had a never-ending supply of peanut butter cups and nestle crunch bars in her freezer; she let us try on all her clothes and do fashion shows for her; she told us we were perfect. When my sister and I slept over at her house, she would kneel before our bed and pray for our souls, ending with the phrase, every time, "And may God keep us healthy til we're all real real old."
My grandma was very funny. She called everyone honey. The paperboy came once and during his long-winded request for payment using teenage vernacular my grandma did not understand, she said to him, "Speak slowly and wonderfully, honey." She did not use the proper terms for private body parts and her word for a man's part was "horn". She was said to ask my mom, after she married my dad, "Has he got a big horn, honey?"
At Christmas, my grandma had presents for everyone. Whether you were a grandchild, a boyfriend or girlfiriend of a grandchild, or a distant cousin, you got a present. In the eighties, my grandmother waited in line for hours to make sure my sister and I got Cabbage Patch Kids. She even once got me a skateboard with a skull on the deck because that's what I asked for. When I brought my high school boy friend one year, she gave him a canister of nuts.
"Oh, mom..." my mom said, "Jeff is allergic to nuts."
"Oh!", my grandma said to him, "Well you can give it to your mother."
"Mom..." my mom said again, "Jeff's mother died."
My grandma threw up her hands, "Oh for heaven's sake!"
She found him a pair of gloves wrapped, under the tree.
The last Christmas my grandma Gigi was alive, she had all but lost her hearing in her left ear.
She kept saying, "What?!" "What?!" to everything everyone said.
My sister looked at my grandma and smiled. "Grandma, you need one of those horns for your ear, so you can hear."
My grandma looked aghast.
"The last thing I need is a horn in my ear!"