I moved from Seattle, WA to Pittsburgh, PA in January 1997, the day after my Gram's birthday, so I wasn't anywhere close to home for my birthday that year. After moving here, it became increasingly difficult to make it home for Christmas. The next two years I literally couldn't afford to go, but Christmas 1999, when my oldest son was just past 1 year old, we made the trip. This would be the last Christmas I would spend with my Gram. Until this past Christmas, it was also the last time I'd been with my family over the holidays.
My husband is an only child, so it's especially important for us all to be here for Christmas and our boys, especially our youngest, have always celebrated Christmas the same way. Given all of these factors, we opted to fly out of Pittsburgh the day after Christmas and my sister convinced my Mom to wait to celebrate Christmas on Saturday. My sister, Ann, and her husband were the only ones who knew we were coming so everyone else would be surprised (and also so they wouldn't go overboard on gifts). I can't even begin to tell you how nice it was to sing along to "I'll be Home for Christmas" without feeling sad for the first time in nine years.
Ann intercepted packages for us under the guise that she'd mail everything to save on shipping, so we got to open our presents along with the rest of my family. One of my presents was decorated with a package tie Mack had made. His presents were always beautifully and artistically wrapped and his stunning gift wrap was as much an anticipation as what was inside the package.
In honor of our visit, Ann made several of the Christmas goodies my Gram had always made, especially Gram's Lane Cake and Pound Cake. The pound cake was always her favorite so when Gram passed away Ann naturally inherited the cake pan Gram always used along with her tin cake keeper. Eating a piece of lane cake, and then later the pound cake out of Gram's container, evoked many memories. It made me feel, if only for a moment, as if she was there. Perhaps she was, watching, and smiling at how I've grown since I was a girl of 12 and still sitting on her lap.