This post brought to you by Jackie not wanting to unpack all her stuff that currently sitting in the middle of the living room floor.
One of the perks of my job is being able to take the full week of Christmas off to spend with my family. I got to spend ample time with my parents and my mom’s side of the family, and I was especially excited to see my brother for more than 48 hours in a row.
Now my immediate family is not exactly known for surprising one another gifts. We tend to fall more into the “tell me what you want”/”purchased with the receiver right there” Christmas present camp. But this year my parents decided to be sneaky and wonderful and decided to surprise my brother and me with incredibly thoughtful gifts. It reflected how attentively they’ve listened to us this past year, even about little things we never expected would manifest themselves as Christmas presents.
Attention world: Jimmy and Nancy Long tell and show their children how much they love them every single day in many different ways. They are, to put it concisely, the bomb-diggity.
While each present I received for Christmas was special and wonderful in its own way, my favorite is this little guy:
Background information time! Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is our family’s Christmas movie tradition. We’ve watched it at my maternal grandparents’ house each Christmas for years now, stretching back to when I was still small enough to sit on PePa’s lap and watch the movie next to him. Whenever the Abominable Snowman/Bumble would come on screen, he’d pull me a bit closer and tell me to watch out for the “Growly Man.” (Mom: Did that name arise because Jay and I couldn’t say “abominable?”) After PePa passed away in 2005, the Growly Man became a touchstone for me, a way to feel a bit closer to him during Christmastime. The Growly Man has remained incredibly special to me in the years since.
I also have a mini-obsession with Funko Pop vinyl figures, so when I discovered that the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer characters existed as Pop vinyls, I knew that I would eventually need to get my hands on the Bumble figure. I mentioned this to my parents during our catch-up conversation when I returned home the Saturday before Christmas, but thought nothing more of it once the topic changed.
However, my mom, sneaky and wonderful woman that she is, decided that she needed to make the Bumble figure-acquisition happen a bit sooner than I imagined, and I found that precious Pop vinyl flashing his toothy grin at me from among the wrapping paper on Christmas Eve. That I didn’t cry when I opened it still a surprise to me.
It’s been nine Christmases now without PePa. It’s still hard to realize how much of my life he hasn’t gotten to be a part of here on Earth. But when the Growly Man comes on the screen while we watch Rudolph each year, I get to reflect on the memories he created for us and remember how much love he poured into our family.
And now I have this this little vinyl figure as a physical touchstone for the rest of the year, not only to remember the grandfather whose name I’m proud to carry, but to give thanks for the daughter he raised who grew up to be the world’s most outstanding mother.
It was an excellent Christmas, indeed.