I Can Still Hear the Bell

Nothing spurs nostalgia quite like the human nose. As Helen Keller once said, “Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles and all the years you have lived.” She would certainly know.

I was blessed with fantastic grand-parents as a kid, but I feel somewhat cursed by the reality that nearly 650 miles separated us for most of my life. Whereas many of my closest friends could see their grandparents on an almost daily basis, I was limited to once—maybe twice—a year. It brought new meaning to the idea of separation anxiety every time I had to say goodbye to them. 

Christmas was always my favorite season growing up, and that remains true to this day. The sense of wonder never left me, and in fact, it has only been enhanced since I started a family of my own. For all “The Polar Express” fans out there, I’m 45, and I can still hear the bell. When I was young, a great deal of the magic revolved around my grandfather, who moonlighted as Santa Claus, and my God-fearing grandmother. Every December, she went through the trouble of baking Christmas cookies—the gingerbread men, which had raisins for eyes and chewy red peppermints for buttons, were always my favorite—and shipped them to us overnight from Miami to Covington so they reached our doorstep while they were fresh. Thank goodness the UPS guys never knew what were in those boxes. I can still smell the smells wafting through our house on Old Monticello Street, and I revisit them in my memories every year.

My grandmother will have been gone 14 years this December. She was my biggest fan. I miss her smile, her zest for life, the games of Frogger on Atari, her unflinching positivity, the contagious laughter and her love for Jesus. And yes, I miss those gingerbread men, too. 

Click here to read more stories by Brian Knapp.

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