Luke follows his two younger siblings as they march down the hall to Grandma’s condo. When their mom mentioned to them over breakfast that it would be nice for them to swing by Grandma’s some time that day, all three teens had collectively groaned. Not that they don’t enjoy spending time with their grandmother…but middle-of-the-week visits are difficult.
As they near the door, Luke tries to improve his attitude. But with a looming college decision hovering over him like an impending dark cloud of doom, he’s in no mood for lighthearted chit-chat. However, the three siblings had made a pact—sports practices, club meetings, homework, and contemplating major life decisions all took a backseat to Grandma.
Austin raps on her front door, tapping out a rhythm with his knuckles like he’s four instead of fourteen.
“Happy St. Patrick’s Day!” he hollers as soon as Grandma opens the door.
She’s wearing one of her many sweatsuits. Today’s choice is festive green.
“Thank you for making the time to come by!” Her youngest grandson towers over her, but she draws him in for a hug anyway.
Celia holds up the floral arrangement they’d grabbed at the grocery store—an explosion of green carnations, white roses, delicate baby’s breath, and greenery. The bouquet is spiked with festive jeweled shamrocks that catch the light as they bend and sway with every movement. “Of course. We know how much you love holidays.”
“These are beautiful!” Grandma accepts the flowers and closes her eyes as she breathes in their scent. She then links her free arm through Celia’s, and the two of them precede Luke and Austin into the condo. “How’s the driving going?”
Luke’s sister tucks a long strand of brown hair behind her ear. “Great! I should be ready to get my license in a few weeks.”
“Wonderful.” Grandma glances at Luke. “And have you made a decision about colleges yet?”
“Not yet.” Luke turns to shut the door. The perfect excuse to hide his annoyance. The extra pressure from everyone isn’t making the decision any easier. He turns back and claps his hands. Time to fake some enthusiasm. “So, who’s ready to bake?”
“Let’s get to it!” Grandma leads the way to the kitchen. While she places the flowers in water, the siblings wash their hands then perch on stools around the kitchen island, the requisite baking sheet and rolling pin in front of each of them.
Grandma opens the refrigerator to pull out a bowl of cookie dough. “I really am glad you are here. I know you’re all incredibly busy, so I wasn’t sure you’d have the time.”
“Absolutely. We couldn’t break tradition.” Austin dips a sneaky finger into the bowl to steal a little dough. He pops the small bit into his mouth before Grandma can bat his hand away.
Ever since Luke can remember, Grandma has celebrated holidays with them by making and decorating sugar cookies, whether it be Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, or the Fourth of July. Her supply of holiday cookie cutters probably puts most bakeries to shame.
He takes in Grandma’s wide smile, suddenly glad they’d agreed to come. He felt a little guilty that they’d stopped helping bake the cookies for a few years, using their busy schedules as an excuse. But after their recent summer vacation to the Southwest with Grandma and their parents, the siblings decided they should restart the tradition. The catalyst to change their minds: Grandma won’t be around forever.
Luke grabs a hunk of dough to start rolling out. “Dad said St. Patrick’s Day is your favorite holiday. Is that true?” Seems like an odd favorite.
Grandma reaches for the shamrock-shaped cookie cutter. “Well, I don’t know if it’s my favorite.”
“You’re part Irish, right?” Celia shifts through the pile of metal shapes.
“Yes, my father’s family all came from Ireland generations ago.” Grandma runs her index finger along the smooth clover shape in her hand. “But that’s not really why the holiday means so much to me.”
Luke sets down his rolling pin. Something in Grandma’s voice makes him look up. Celia and Austin must also hear the slight tease in her tone because they stop what they’re doing and glance at each other.
That sly grin of hers—the one they all first noticed over the summer—clued him in. “Something you want to tell us?”
“Story time!” The teens say in unison, a bit louder than desired for inside voices.
Grandma laughs. “Well, there is a story I’ve never told you…something that happened to me when I was eleven and my brother Harry was thirteen. Every St. Patrick’s Day, I’m reminded of that experience.” She picks up her rolling pin and begins flattening a ball of dough. “As you know, my father was a professor of archeology at a college in Iowa. I’m not exactly sure what year it was—mid to late 1950s. Our father’s break between terms fell in the middle of March. My mother was away taking care of her parents while Harry and I stayed home with our father. His plan for the week was to finally tackle a few projects around the house while we were at school.”
Grandma draws a deep breath. A smile lifts the corners of her lips as she launches into her St. Patrick’s Day tale.
To find out more about Grandma Grace’s childhood adventure please check out Treasures: Visible & Invisible!