Christmas, 1982 by Sarah Elizabeth Turner

December 20, 2014 § 12 Comments

Another Christmas Smile:

joyI sit on Gram’s lap drowning in a maroon velour sailor dress, feet curled in white tights, not yet of walking age. Gram’s graceful, piano-playing fingers rest on my leg, her pointer upraised behind the bow of my dress, caressing the fabric. Her right arm supports me, the seventh of her thirteen grandchildren, although I turn ten months old tomorrow and have long been able to sit up on my own, to scoot around after my older brother.

Gram and I face each other, matching smiles on our faces.  It’s hard to believe it’s Christmas because the room’s empty except for us and whoever’s behind the camera.  We take no notice of this mysterious person; Our smiles are only for each other.

Next Christmas my mom will be pregnant with my sister. Later Christmases we’ll all file down into the basement around the fake tree, which stands year-round, and later still we’ll spend at least one Christmas in the hospital, some combination of the 25 of us huddled around Grandpa’s bed.

I don’t remember many Christmases in that house, certainly not this one, but whenever I ventured into Gram’s basement, no matter what month or day I went, it was perpetually Christmas down there.

I can still smell the musty mix of pine, old davenport, and linoleum, years and years of eggnog and lace. I miss that house, almost as much as I miss Gram.

On her 90th birthday, when we all gathered in that living room to celebrate her milestone, Gram put those piano fingers to work playing ragtime with a gusto I hadn’t seen in ages.

That was the last time I saw her.

I hold on to moments like this: just me, and Gram, and perpetual Christmas.

Sarah Elizabeth Turner has an M.F.A. in creative writing from Hamline University, where she served as an assistant editor for Water~Stone Review. Her work has been published in rock, paper, scissors; She Bear Literary; Versus; Sleet; and Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland. She writes CNF with a humorous tilt and can be found blogging at or performing improv at Brave New Workshop.

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