#ThrowbackThursday: Family Christmas

When my grandma turned 90, back in 2006, our whole family banded together to find and scan as many photos from her lifetime as we could, which were then loaded into a digital photo frame we gave her for her birthday. She loved getting to see long-forgotten pictures from her childhood alongside more recent photos with her great-grandchildren, and as a side-effect, we all ended up with a wonderful archive of what is now nearly 100 years of family photos.

So when I wanted something from outside my lifetime for a Throwback Thursday post for today, that was the file I opened up on my computer — and it did not disappoint. After scrolling through fewer than a dozen photos (the files are not ordered chronologically, for the most part) I stumbled upon this delightful picture:

#ThrowbackThursday: Family Christmas
McGowan family Christmas

I’m not exactly sure when this was taken but this is my mom, her sister Fran, her brothers Fred and Jim, and my grandma in front of their Christmas tree, some time in the late 1940s or early 1950s. (If I could just remember when Uncle Jim — the baby in the photo — was born, I’d be able to pinpoint it a bit more clearly.)

I am entirely smitten with this picture, from  Mom and Fran’s matchy-matchy dresses and dolls (twins, yanno), to Aunt Fran’s side-eye at her baby brother, to Grandma’s awesome mod dress, to my gram’s and uncles’ huge smiles. My only wish was that Grandpa was in the photo too, but he is undoubtedly the one taking it, as he took pretty much all our family photos always.

(Which is a good reminder: people, get in your own photos occasionally. Someday, someone might be wishing you were there.)

Gingerbread Girl

Gingerbread Girl

I made this for my grandpa when I was five. I know this for two reasons: 1) my mom helpfully wrote the date and my name on the back and 2) I can remember it hanging on a tree in his apartment when I was little. I will acknowledge that might not be the clearest memory — my grandfather died when I was nine, which was quite a while ago. And in my mind, it was hanging year-round on… Well, not a pine tree, but some sort of small, regular tree.

(As I try to justify this odd recollection and find myself wondering why anyone would have a tree in their apartment, I look across the living room and notice the ficus I’ve brought in from the cold. So yeah, I guess it happens.)

When I moved out on my own, my gingerbread girl was one of the “home” ornaments I picked to take with me, and is by far the oldest one I have. It lives in the offseason packed in a special box filled with foam padding, and every Christmas I find the highest, sturdiest branch to hang it on, in the hopes of keeping it safe for one more year. (When you have cats, precious Christmas objects are perpetually at risk while on display.)

It sounds slightly over-dramatic to say the gingerbread girl is one of the most precious things I own, but because it’s one of the very few things I have that belonged to my grandpa — and the only one that I made for him — it really is. Unboxing it every Christmas and discovering it hasn’t disintegrated (yet) makes me smile, and when I look at it, it reminds me that even people who have been gone longer than long are never all that far away.