I miss Boww.
I'm 30 years old, and this is the first year my grandfather didn't spend Christmas sitting on that sofa or milling around my parents' Ware Street house.
And I hate it.
James Allison Yearwood -- the man I grew up calling Boww -- passed away in January, just weeks after he spent last Christmas laughing and celebrating with the family at my parents' house.
Some of my favorite Christmas memories revolve around Boww. He and Nana -- my grandmother -- were the only people I knew growing up who actually had an outdoor Christmas tree. They'd decorate it each year with these big, colored lights that cast their hue on anything within 50 feet. And on their indoor tree, they clamped small glass birds to the limbs -- birds that have migrated to my parents' Christmas tree in recent years.
I also remember Boww being more of a kid at Christmas than any of his grandchildren. He'd almost always be awake before my sister or I and be waiting in the living room when we came in to see our gifts, especially when he and Nana would spend Christmas Eve in Thomson. Even when they decided to start driving from Union Point to Thomson on Christmas morning, they'd hit town before 7 a.m. -- in plenty of time to get Christmas started in Smithville.
Once Christmas got started, he'd plop down on the sofa and open his gifts -- usually some peanuts, a case of chewing tobacco, some aftershave and a shirt or two. (We never got real creative with Boww's gifts, for some reason.)
Without Boww, there's a Christmas gift as old as I am that holds an extra special place in my heart this year.
For years, I wondered just what was the significance of this collection of spools and buttons that sat in my dresser drawer.
I could never bring myself to throw them away. And now I'm glad I didn't.
I found the story behind the spools in a stack of old papers. The hand-written note on yellowed paper is 30 years old this year, given to me on Christmas in 1973: "These buttons and spools are from Granny Yearwood. We're sure she would have already fixed them if she were here. Merry Christmas to a sweet boy."
Just like Granny Yearwood couldn't be there to fix the buttons and spools (though I'm not real sure how you "fix" spools and buttons), her son can't be here this year.
And there's plently I'd like for him to fix.
No matter what ends up under the tree, there'll be some things I know I won't get. One more twinkle from his blue eyes. One more handshake from his calloused hands. One more hug from his strong arms. One more opportunity to make one more memory with one of the greatest men I ever knew.
Merry Christmas everyone.
Now go spend time with your families.