It's the twenty-third of December. It's my grandpa's birthday. Last year, I found a YouTube recording of I Jesu Navn, and the year before that I had just discovered the fire and ice of the Trio Mediaeval. This year, a friend asked me about Grandpa Les, and I told her that he was the grandfather who cried (for happiness) at my wedding, and who told me when I was a girl that I had beautiful handwriting, and that the reason his tie was colored like that was because he had once stood too close to a rainbow.
I typed those words to my friend - that my grandpa told me he had once stood too close to a rainbow - and I started to cry. I miss him, of course, but not in any regretful way. I miss my girlhood, too. And I grew up, and he passed on, and that it as it should be, and that is a life I love, and today - on December 23rd, Grandpa Les is standing close by, as much a part of my girlhood and my selfhood as my handwriting.
He gave me my first roller skates, and the joy of roller skating on a summer afternoon is the joy of a granddaughter. He built us our stilts, too - and the thrill of the danger and the height and the practice and the sound of the butt ends of 2x2's on the sidewalk are the gifts of a grandfather. My cedar chest was built by his hands. My Norse identity was offered to me by his grin.
The taste of buttered and sugared lefse, rolled up into a tube and always slightly messy to eat, and the taste of Kringla, soaked in melted butter out of the oven, kept nice and cool between the sheets of waxed paper inside grandma's wooden container and then spread with more butter by the uncles when they finally got some, and the taste of blue cheese salad dressing on iceberg lettuce ... these are the flavors that came to me from my Norwegian grandfather.
Today, in this December after my girlhood and before my own grandmothering, Grandpa Les is as near to me as a rainbow and that's why my life is colored this way.