When I came home for spring break the first stop I made was at my grandma’s house. She sent word that she had made me a sweet potato pie; canned sweet potatoes, she’s too old to keep up a garden these days. Canned sweet potatoes or home grown, made no difference, it was one of my grandma’s pies, and one she made just for me.
I would have stopped by her house first, pie or not, I always did, sometimes spending the night there on her old sofa. It was the same one I slept on as a kid. It was where I would lay on those long summer afternoons, watching soap operas and game shows with her and the Braves play with my grandpa when he was still alive.
There was no TV watching over the sofa any longer, not like in those days. She got rid of it a while back claiming she had seen enough and she had Bible reading and praying to do, and worrying too, though she didn’t mention the worrying part.
She called it, “ concern,” when I asked her what troubled her wrinkled little brow, patting the little gray bun of hair perched high on her head. She shooed me away for messing with her hair, but not too far.
Beside her TV being gone, her Christmas lights left over from the holidays still dangled from the porch rails and eaves, big fat Christmas lights. At first I thought she saved them for me to help her take down, seeing how it had been me who climbed grandpa’s ladder the day before Thanksgiving and strung them up. That wasn’t the case though she explained still bragging on what a fine job I had done hanging the lights.
When I notice several houses the streets Christmas light glowing right along with my grandma’s I couldn’t hide my curiosity.
“Something I started,” was all she would tell me at first about why Christmas lights where still decorating her house with Easter just around corner. This didn’t help me much, but to my knowledge the only thing my grandma ever started was my grandpa going to church and her old Ford.
“It’s soon going to be Easter,” I reminded her to which she reminded me she could still work a calendar and to watch my mouth.
Then she let me in on the whole thing and all at once about how Easter was the reason for Christmas and how one and one day soon “They were going to do away with Christmas, and Easter too,” and that was why she was leaving her Christmas lights shining.
“Jesus stood up for me and now it’s my turn to stand up for him, and I am not the only one,” she said pointing to Mrs. Florine’s house on the corner. The she told me about the women from her Sunday school class who were letting their lights shine too.
I never could get her to admit that this was all her idea, Christmas lights year round and letting her light shine, something she told me to do growing up.
“Let your light shine,” she would tell me when I was feeling discouraged and on the outside looking in.
I kept it to myself but all the way home that day. For miles and miles I had seen houses with Christmas lights glowing on their porches and hanging in their trees.
“But we must love them like the Bible says,” she said when she got around to talking about our leaders, “Just like we had to love old Blue.”
Blue was a well meaning but misguided old hound I had heard stories about for years. One of the my grandpa’s dogs that made friends with everybody even the bad guys, and liked to eat food that belonged to the other dogs, the ones that hunted.
“So many Pilates and Herods and Sherods running things,” she told me before she got quiet not wanting to talk bad about anyone. When I asked her what a, “Sherod,” was, the other two I had heard of, she reminded me I was in college and could figure it out if I read the Bible she got me for my birthday real careful. “ Matthew 2:16,” she told me, which did make it all clear as I read and finished up my second slice of sweet potato pie, watching the Christmas lights beginning to glow in evening dark and not knowing how exactly how to feel.
This is a work of fiction dedicated to Grandmother’s and those who let their lights shine. Keep on keeping on.
Edward Reed 2019