All six of my brothers and sisters are grandparents. My oldest sister, Bobbie, has three great-grandchildren. As my husband Mike likes to say, “It’s not a family, it’s a nation!” Buying Christmas presents for the entire Nation of Flo is out of the question. So we pick names, and you have to make a gift for the person you choose.
New babies press handprints into clay wall hangings, cousins stuff homemade pillows for gifts, pinecones collected in backyards magically transform into Christmas ornaments -and back-scratchers! Every gift is a treasure, and this year’s were so thoughtful I thought I’d share some highlights:
- My sister Bev and her husband Lon live right next to a forest preserve in Michigan . Lon made a shepherd’s crook from a long stick he found in the woods and gave it to our nephew Mark, who is a Hobbit fan
- Five-year-old Bryce spends a lot of time in that forest preserve too. He made colorful rubbings of leaves he’d found in the woods and framed the rubbings for Schminke (his name for his Great-grandma, Flo
- Our Minnesota niece Caren picked Mike’s name. She’s treating him to two tickets to a White Sox game at Target Field this year, and she made him something he’d need for the game: a long, woolen black-and-white scarf to keep him warm.
- My Florida brother-in-law Rick made a poster for our 9-year-old great-niece Audrey, who absolutely loves going to the Art Institute when visiting Chicago. He had a poster made with super heroes depicted the way Gauguin, Picasso and Van Gogh might have painted them. Audrey was on the poster, too: She was Wonder Woman
The kids seemed especially tickled with the gifts they made for each other this year. One of my favorites was the one 11-year-old Lydia made for her 4-year-old cousin Jack. She started with a “Guess Who?” game
— one where kids examine animals on cards and figure out the differences and similarities between them — and replaced the animal pictures with photos of family members. Jack happened to be right behind me when he opened his gift, and Lydia ran right over to explain what it was. “That’s Addie, she’s one, she lives in Florida,” I heard her carefully explaining to her little cousin. “I don’t think you met her yet, but that’s her, in the picture.”
With three more great-grandchildren on the way in 2014, the Nation of Flo is growing. So the “Guess Who” game will only get more difficult.