COLUMN: Time with family the greatest gift

NANAIMO - Artistic family members encouraged passion for art.

The greatest gift I received for Christmas was my grandmother’s smile.

Her smile was more like a beaming grin, spreading across her face as she stared out the passenger car window at a dazzling Christmas light display.

She didn’t ask me directly that she wanted to go out and see all the lights.

During a conversation with my father on the phone when I was also in the living room she mentioned it to him. So I decided to go online and find a listing of the best light displays and on Christmas we drove out to find them.

Every house on one street we went to was decorated. The house on the corner was particularly impressive.

The walkway leading to the house was lined with red and white candy canes that sparkled next to the tree enveloped in blue and white lights.

The rest of the lawn was dotted with snowmen and reindeer. Santa and his sleigh sat perched on the rooftop.

Taking her out to see the lights was as much a present for me as for her.

She recently fractured her pelvis and has been having difficulty getting around.

Going out for walks in her neighbourhood has stopped due to bad weather and the worry that she might slip and fall on the sidewalk if there is ice or frost. That’s left my grandma mostly inside with the occasional visits from friends. They like to chat over a cup of tea.

As I get older I realize more that it isn’t the presents under the tree that have any meaning. Those presents are nice, but the time spent with loved ones is far more valuable.

With my grandmother fracturing her pelvis and seeing her health decline it made me wonder how much longer she’s going to be with us.

I hope she lives well past 100.

While unpacking boxes in my house over the weekend I found a few of the birthday cards she’s sent me over the years. I don’t throw them out because who knows how many more I may receive.

Sometimes I wished that I had kept more of them from my childhood, but keeping everything just means my house is packed with clutter.

In one box I found an old fan my grandfather brought back with him when he served in Korea. The fan isn’t the most precious gift, but the memories that come back when I see it are.

I don’t really remember any of the birthday or Christmas presents he gave me.

What I do remember is when he came to visit he would always sit down with me and draw pictures.

He taught me about perspective and the horizon by drawing funny figures different distances apart.

At the time I didn’t realize what he was teaching me, but it cemented those concepts in my developing mind.

Art became a part of my life from an early age. My mother painted oils when I was a child and now works as a digital artist, creating figures and themes for paper craft artists.

During the summer months we were always crafting. My mother and I either used potato cutouts to make designs on rolls of paper or an old toothbrush to spatter the blank canvas.

As time went on my mother taught me how to draw, although I never seemed to get as good as her.

In high school I started to learn carving and was lucky enough to apprentice with a local sculptor and learn from someone making a living with their craft.

I still wish I could work on my carvings, but I use soapstone and the dust is too fine to do it in my condo.

An outdoor space would be ideal. For now I just have some unfinished pieces sitting on my shelf that I look at longingly when I pass. Perhaps one day I will get back to them.

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