I know my gramm well. She hated every second the camera was pointed in her direction. She hasn’t had her holiday hair appointment yet. Everyone keeps forgetting to buy her hairspray. Then I show up with a camera and start clicking without any notice at all. Growing up, I don’t remember Gramm leaving to check the mail without applying a fresh coat of lipstick; soI can only imagine the negative thoughts running through her mind when I showed up with a camera to put up her Christmas tree.
Gramm knows me better than anyone though. She never voiced her irritation to me once. She’s much too classy for that. Also, I think she knows how much I needed to take these photos.
For the past few years, she has reminded my sisters and I that she is not getting any younger. I am in complete denial and refuse to believe that Gramm has aged at all since I was 6 years old. She’s my rock, my voice of reason, and my conscience. She’s invincible to me.
Decorating Gramm’s tree has been a tradition of mine since I was little. My uncle and I would fluff the branches; then he would string the rainbow lights as Gramm and I would unwrap the ornaments. Every ornament had a story, had character. We would never rush to get finished. It wasn’t about that. It was about the time spent together. The memories we were making.
As Gramm would unwrap each new ornament, she would instantly smile as if the ornament was a time machine bringing her right back to the moment she received it. I loved those smiles. I can still remember sitting on the coffee table watching her light up. I would move closer and closer to her thinking this was my favorite day. She would hold up an ornament beaming with pride as she told the story of a teacher showing great appreciation for her extra efforts, or about this ‘special one’ from Wilson with a sheepish grin (that one was my favorite). She would always tell me to hang my ornament in a special spot “in front and at the top!” I still shoot my sister a huge grin when she says this.
To this day, my sisters and I look forward to putting up the tree for Gramm (or Nanny as they call her). We make a day of it playing Michael Buble’s Christmas music, incorporate all of the old traditions, and enjoy every second spent with Gramm sharing stories and laughing. She truly is the rock of our family.
I went into this expecting to document a family tradition that I know better than anything, but instead I learned something incredibly valuable. It’s funny all the things you overlook on a daily basis. Things you’ve never noticed before suddenly become clear when you step behind a lens. As I watched my sister interact with Gramm, I saw how similar they are; and not just the obvious similarities that we’ve all grown to know over the years. I witnessed, and was finally able to define, the exact characteristics that I’ve been idolizing in Gramm all these years. My little sister is growing up into the woman I’ve always aspired to be and I could not be more proud.