This Comes Without Ribbons

The Christmas tree in Mom's asst. living apartment, with family pictures scattered among the decorations.  Even Scout's is included.

(The Christmas tree in Mom’s asst. living apartment, with family pictures scattered among the decorations. Even Scout’s is included.)



Our tree is a Charlie Brown tree, very basic with one red ball and one Christmas Pickle ornament. It's on a table so Scout can't get it.

(Our tree is a Charlie Brown tree, very basic with one red ball and one Christmas Pickle ornament. It’s on a table so Scout can’t get it.)













“It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags!… Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas…perhaps … means a little bit more!” ~Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

An eleven-year-old boy can be caught up in multiple sports, computer games, and all the statistics surrounding Fantasy Football and his favorite NFL teams. But if this boy is also sweet and thoughtful—and a treasured grandson, too—he might make a surprising offer: “Mor-Mor, I want to go with you to visit Great-Grandma.”

The drive was 200 miles each way, with errands to get things for my mother, plus silk poinsettias to put on my dad’s grave stone, but Gannon’s offer was sincere.

He was a wonderful travel companion, a masterful Word-Search player, and a blessing not just for me, but for his great-grandmother as well. My mother had not been responding for almost two days, but without hesitating Gannon pulled up a chair beside her and opened her favorite book of A LITTLE BOOK OF POEMS AND PRAYERS.   He began reading aloud to her, and when he put his hand on hers, she began to hum. He kept reading, and soon she opened her eyes, looked at him and smiled.

Being with our family is always wonderful. Even chasing after puppy Scout this Christmas has worn us all out, but it has also kept us laughing and happy, cuddling the fur ball of energy. The list of special moments goes on and on. While I will remember them all with heartfelt gratitude, I will be especially thankful for the memory of our grandson reaching out and patting his great-grandmother’s hand as he read aloud her favorite poems and prayers.

This post comes to you without ribbons and tags, but with many genuine wishes for Christmas joy.

And of course birthday cake!  Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus!

And of course birthday cake!

Scout (and her shadow) waiting at the door for more fun and mischief.

Scout (and her shadow) waiting at the door for more fun and mischief.




Filed under "Christmas Memories With Mom", Dementia/Alzheimer's, importance of doing good things, making a difference, memories for great-grandchildren, spending time with kids, Spiritual connections, Things to be thankful for

65 responses to “This Comes Without Ribbons

  1. Such sweet Christmas memories. I have been away from my computer so missed the arrival of Scout. Bless her. All the very best for 2016.

  2. Molly Mosher

    That’s my boy! Gannon is so much like me, always ready for an adventure… and a super sensitive side. I believe that Gannon feels so connected to grandma is because he listens to the stories you and I tell about her. Grace would have gone along too, except she had church obligations on Sunday morning. I am so glad that it was such a wonderful trip and visit for you and Gan Man. A true memory making trip.

    • Gannon really is so much like you, Mookie. Grace, too, but in different ways, but with Gannon patting Grandma’s hand and reading to her and smiling, it was exactly what you would have done at his age…and even now with your grandma. It was a special trip, taking him along, and there was no question that it made a difference for her as well.

      • Tammy Heimsoth

        So many blessings, a wonderful Christmas moment. Molly, Grace and Gannon are all so special and loving-kindness, Trevor must feel all loving-kindness daily. Bless you as well. Smiles and hums that sound like happiness from a very special lady. I love this heart felt, special memory story. Thank you for sharing.

      • And thank you, Tammy. When we’re not there with Mom, you are, and we know the excellent care she receives.

  3. Gannon is your ribbon and beau in this heartwarming story. He may take up the mantle as the next master storyteller.

    I once had a Heinz pickle pin. It never went on the Christmas tree because it was too small. Besides, Mennonite families like ours didn’t have such trees in those days.

    This post is short and sweet, just perfect for the end of our day. Love the birthday cake too, Marylin.

    • Gannon was the one who introduced us to the Christmas pickle tradition after he received one as at gift, Marian. Our family always strung popcorn to hang on the tree (and later put out in the yard), plus home made and special ornaments, so a pickle would have been out of place.
      You’re so right, Marian; I love your expression that Gannon is my ribbon and beau! 😉

  4. You never fail to write a heart warming blog Marylin. This one is no different with young Gannon showing how he’s inherited Grandma’s kindness and love of family.
    I wish you all the Happiest of New Year’s with plenty more posts like this to come.
    xxx Gigantic Hugs xxx

    • Gannon’s kindness and helpfulness on the trip was a true Christmas gift, David, and a very special memory for me. I wish you the Happiest New Year as well, with good health and energy and continuing sweetness.
      Gigantic Hugs!

  5. How very special. The younger generation are so kind and patient with the old folks. Your grandson sounds very special. My mom had a visit from her great great granddaughter which brightened her Christmas day which is also her birthday. I visited via Skype (thank heaven for technology). Sending many Christmas hugs. ❤

    • Happy birthday to your mother, Darlene, and how special that her great-great-granddaughter visited! To have a great-great-granddaughter visit–and be award and responsive–is indeed a blessing!
      Sending you and your family many Christmas hugs! 🙂

  6. Jim

    Memorable visit for sure. Truly amazing what enkindles a brain-spark from the depths of advanced dementia. Great-Grandma Mary will not remember the moment, but Gannon will always remember it and carry her in his heart.

    • I don’t think it meant anything to Mom when I told her that her great-grandson Gannon had come to visit her, Jim, but I believe that when his hand was on hers and he was reading so sweetly to her, on some level she sensed this was someone who loved her. I’ll always remember this, and I think Gannon will as well.

  7. calvin

    “So be it; truly.”

  8. What a special boy to chose to spend time with his grandmother and great grandmother! You are so lucky!

    • This boy–and his sister, who is 11 months older–have both been blessings since they were very young, doing unexpected, sweet and thoughtful things. But still, I was very surprised when Gannon offered to come with me, Kate. It was a lot of driving and he’d just gotten out of school for the holidays and probably had many other things he’d rather do. That made it even more special. 😉

  9. Nancy Parker Brummett

    So heartwarming. Thank you for sharing, Marilyn. Gannon is a special one for sure–and Scout seems to be working out just fine’

    • He is a sweetie, Nancy, for sure. Now…if Scout would just take lessons from him! 😉 It’s been many years since we’ve had a puppy, so her antics, accidents and adventures are a rude awakening for us. We also know why puppies are so adorable and funny and affectionate: to remind us why this will all be worth it! 🙂

  10. Such a lovely story for Christmas. What a sweetie to spend time reading to his great Grandma. The power of children, eh. If only it could be bottled. Happy wishes to you and your fam Marylin xx

    • If we could bottle it, Jenny, think of how many would want to buy it! 😉
      Happy wishes to you and your family, too. Have you decided if this new year will be the year you take the dog plunge?

  11. Diana Stevan

    Ah Marylin, you brought me to tears this morning, reading about your wonderful grandson, reading to your mother. It is so true, moments like the one you shared bring us joy. Amidst all the terrible news that flashes unendingly on our TVs, we need to hang on to the simple expressions of love that light our way. Wishing you and your family all the best over the holiday season and a Happy New Year.

    • You know, Diana, we were saying the same thing. It was a calm, relaxing, pre-Christmas journey for me to have Gannon along on my visit to see my mother. We didn’t watch TV news flashes or commentaries of all the dangers and problem; I didn’t even read a newspaper. Instead, I enjoyed the sound of his voice and the image of her smiling as he patted her hand. Wishing you and your family the joys and blessings of Christmas as you go into the New Year.

  12. A lovely Christmas post Marylin. I’m sure Scout will be a lot of fun and laughs. You have s wonderful Marylin. Such a blessing.

  13. Should read : you have a wonderful family😂

  14. I love your pickle on the tree. I and my friends have a pickle ornament, lots of variations of pickle themes. One Christmas a dinner gift for the men was a small jar of mini sweet pickles. This all comes from us girls watching Crossing Delancy…more than once! The pickle man has a big part in the movie and I won’t spoil it here other than to say we gals knew the pickle was a symbol for our lives!! Have you seen the movie?

    • Okay, now I have to see Crossing Delancy, Claudia, so I’ll know more about the pickle man. 🙂
      The Christmas pickle can be a challenge: the first day, the person who finds it–hiding in the tree or handing from a plant or the ribbon on a present, etc.–has that day to be the winner. Then that person will also then hide the pickle before going to bed, and the the next morning everyone looks for it, repeating the process. It can go on and on until Christmas Day.
      This isn’t a good game to play with a mischievous puppy scampering around, thought!
      So, Claudia, are you going to make New Year’s writing resolutions? 😉

  15. Tammy Heimsoth

    Marylin and all family of your Mom, your all so very special friends and love one to your mom. I was thrilled to read your memories made with Gannon, good fun loving time spent and the smiling hums really warms my heart. Connecting with love ones, many many blessing to each one of you. Gannon your a blessing to all that know you. Have a great Christmas break. Thanks to you as well Marylin, God Bless.

    • Tammy, we all thank you. ❤
      You know the smiling hums of my mother because you take such good care of her and fix her special foods, and spend time talking to her. You are so good to her, Tammy, and we all appreciate everything you do.

  16. Marylin, this is one of the best Christmas stories ever. Thank you for sharing. ❤

  17. How beautiful that your grandson accompanied you to see your mom. That is absolutely precious. (and he read to your mom!) And I love the quote you opened with Marylin, that awesome Grinch quote that I know so well.
    Blessings to you for a wonderful year ahead.
    xo Joanne

  18. No ribbons or tags necessary to feel your sincere wish for Merry Christmas, Marylin. Your grandson gave you a beautiful gift of time and love. So precious and he’ll have wonderful memories to last him a life time. I hope your Christmas was wonderful and I wish you another week of Christmas joy before the new year is upon us. XO

    • And I wish the same for you, dear Robyn.
      We’re waiting out the sudden winter snow and ice now, watching the reposts before we can begin the drive home. But it’s been a touching and happy time for us. You’ve probably been in demand for Christmas portraits and special pictures, so I hope you can relax now and enjoy the rest of the holiday.

  19. jakesprinter

    What a beautiful post Marilyn Happy Holiday to you my friend

  20. And a Happy Holiday to you, too, my friend. I’m still smiling at your excellent post today, Jake!

  21. No ribbons are needed for this heartwarming post. What a beautiful grandson. Have a healthy and happy New Year.

  22. Marylin, gifts without tags and ribbons are truly the best kind to receive. What a wonderful gift of love Gannon gave to you and your mom.
    Blessings, Tracy

    • And the best gift of all, Tracy, is that even if his Great-grandmother doesn’t remember this special moment, I believe Gannon will always remember it. And that’s quite a gift for an 11-year-old boy. The same little guy who several years ago created his Picasso-type portrait of me. and was later featured on your blog. 😉
      Blessings for you and yours, Tracy.

  23. juliabarrett

    Oh I love it! Christmas is in the faces and the stories of those we love. Merry belated Christmas, Marylin. Happy coming New Year!

  24. So moving. The power of the touch of a child. There’s something ethereal about it.

    • It made my December visit with my mother a true Christmas celebration, Laurel. I don’t know if she realized that the young reader beside her who was patting her hand was actually her great-grandson, but I truly believe that she sensed it was the touch of someone who loved her.

      • I have no doubt. The human touch is very powerful…more powerful than most people realize. Did you know that if someone has high blood pressure and someone who is close to them, puts their hand on their shoulder, their blood pressure immediately goes down?

  25. Oh Marylin, this is just so heartwarming and precious, A little tear has welled up in my eye, but in a good way imagining your eleven year old grandson patting his 97 year old (hope I got that right!) great-grandmother’s hand. Your beautiful, loving family share love and wonderful blessings, especially at Christmas. Who needs ribbons or giftwrap? The photo of Scout is so cute too ❤

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