Flexibility is key in pulling off the advent calendar activities and sometimes the activities have nothing to do with Christmas but happen to be what we already have on our schedule for the day. This activity fits into that category.
I was blessed with the best grandma in the world. I know you all think your grandma was the best, but I promise you, my grandma Norma was THE best! She loved everyone unconditionally and made every person feel like they were the most important thing in her life just by being around her. And it doesn't hurt that I was her favorite grandchild. That's another thing that made her amazing--she made everyone around her feel like they were her favorite. You could ask each of her 16 grandchildren who they thought was her favorite and everyone would think it was them. She was raised in a generation full of prejudices yet she never showed any prejudice toward another fellow human being. She loved everyone equally. And she looked for every opportunity to serve them. That's how we all met Ernie. 30 years ago he was working for a neighbor up the street from my grandma. My grandma hired him to help paint her house and heard his unfortunate story. Left an orphan at the age of 2. Raised in foster homes. Ran away as a teenager. Battled alcoholism. And no one to call his family. My grandma offered him a place to stay in her basement and he lived there for the next 30 years. He became family to all of us. He helped my grandma Norma take care of my other grandma when she had Alzheimer's. He took care of my grandma Norma when it got too hard for her to take care of her yard, shovel the walks, cook her food. He was the reason my grandma got to stay in her home with hospice. My grandma was so happy when her children told her their plans of letting Ernie live in her home after she passed away. They even decided to have him buried next to my grandparents and my Uncle Dean. My grandma lost her son, my uncle Dean, when he was 18 years old in a pedestrian/auto accident. Ironically Ernie was the same age as the son my grandma lost all of those years ago.
Grandma Norma, her neighbor (and my adoptive grandma) Harriet and Ernie
Ernie was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer 3 years ago. We thought this year might be his last birthday celebration with us and had a big family get together with all of the cousins for his 73rd birthday. He started to get tremors this past year and had a harder time walking. He finally decided he'd like to go to a care center where he could have some additional help. He was there for a only a few weeks. He passed away on Saturday, December 4th.
Our family and his friend Oscar (pictured on the far right) was all the family that Ernie had. My family decided to keep it simple and have a nice graveside service to honor Ernie. It ended up being beautiful. Lots of tears shed out of gratitude for having Ernie in our lives and for Grandma Norma and her selfless love she shared with everyone she met. Because of that love we were all blessed by knowing Ernie, his smile and his always chipper greeting of, "Hey buddy!" We'll miss you Ernie!