This song is talking about my house

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 28, 2003

"Over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house we go Š"

It was the anthem we sang in elementary school as Thanksgiving approached. In my mind I pictured a sleigh, like the ones in storybooks, gliding over a white hill. Children inside the sleigh laughed and snuggled under blankets as they headed for the warmth of grandmother's kitchen.

Of course, there weren't many sleighs traveling the roads of South Alabama at Thanksgiving. We made the trip to see relatives in a station wagon with wood trim on its sides. After discussions about who would sit where and who got the window seat on what part of the trip, we hit the road.

As I got older, the memories of traveling those miles together became sweeter and sweeter. There is almost a feeling of longing in remembering the Thanksgivings of my childhood because it was a time wrapped in such innocence.

Grandmothers' houses meant warmth and love and a feeling of security. For the adults the holiday probably brought the stress of getting children all headed in one direction at the same time. For the grandmothers I am sure it was a frantic time of cooking, cleaning and preparing for guests.

But for children it was food, fun and freedom.

I think for my own grown children, it was probably the same experience. Most years going to grandmother's house was only a walk next door or down the street. Still it was a special time.

This morning I was taking a trip backwards through the years to Thanksgivings past, something you tend to do as you get older. It was a pleasant journey with stops at different phases of my life from childhood, to the teenage years, to the days when I was a young mother and on to the time when my own older children left the nest.

As I said, sometimes I can feel a little homesick thinking about the past and the people who are no longer here to visit with on holidays. That is when there is a bit of sadness mingled with the joy of remembering.

In the midst of my thoughts, I started humming that old favorite Thanksgiving song about the sleigh and grandmother's house. That is when it hit me; my house is now grandmother's house to three little girls. The sleigh stops at my door.

I don't know why the thought seemed surprising because I have been "Gran" to these angels for several years now. My girls, as I call them when I do a little grandmother bragging, are full of life and energy. Being around them makes me happy, joyful and sometimes a little tired.

They still reside in that land of innocence called childhood where everything is miraculous and exciting.

When they come for a visit their smiles and obvious delight at seeing me and "Pa Mike" (what they call my husband) says more than words. The feel of little arms around your neck defies description.

As I was thinking about this, it dawned on me that I have arrived at yet another phase of my life. I am now the person in charge of making memories for grandchildren.

What happens in the next few years will be what my girls remember when they reach my age and look back on the sweet days of their childhood.

My hope is when that someday arrives, the memories they have of their trips over the river and through the woods to grandmother's house will be as sweet as mine.