Growing up, we spent every Christmas eve at my great grandparents house. This is a tradition full of so many family members, jello, salsa with cream cheese, that smell of my great grandma’s perfume, and the chocolates I would sneak off the table. My mom said that this same tradition happened since she was a kid. After speaking to my great grandfather (who is almost 94 and still going strong!) he said the tradition started by fluke because they used to hang out at someone else’s house, but that was not happening that year, so Marge and him took over the tradition. This was her favorite day of the year! She was very festive and glamorous (and was a teacher too!)
Since my grandmother died, this tradition became hard on him. We have had years of doing nothing and trying to find our stride. This year, we drove to my grandfather’s house and we all hung out. We watched Charger games, ate food, played games, talked with my grandpa of his world war 2 stories and more.
Talking to him was my favorite part. He said he was 17 years old when his number came up in the draft. He went down and registered and they told him he had 10 days to turn 18, finish high school, go to prom, and get what he needed taken care of. He was able to choose between Michigan and San Diego for boot camp, and like a smart man in the winter, he chose San Diego. He actually trained at Liberty Station, which is within walking distance of where our boat is parked. Today, Liberty Station is stores and restaurants, but each morning at 8 AM on our boat, we hear the National Anthem play.
He discussed becoming a Morse Code Radio man. He said he was in Nagasaki as well and this was the one place he became scared. He would dive into these fox holes and hear these booms that rattled your bones.
I realized while talking to him that he turns 94 in February and he is the youngest soldiers that were in the war. This means we are almost out of these first hand stories. I was so glad I was able to talk with him about this. He spoke of coming home and using his GI bill to go to San Diego State College where he was on the crew team. He smiled as he told stories of my grandma and how beautiful she was. He told me how he plays poker each day to keep up his brain and his social skills. He even won $500 last week!
I enjoyed this year’s tradition. I enjoyed holding my sweet Summer girl, observing the family around me and smiling as I remember that I came from each of these people. Even though our old traditions have gone, maybe we are starting some new ones that are just as sweet.