My Grandma’s (on my dad’s side) full name is Gladys Ernistine Turner. She is from the sticks of southeast Arkansas… Crossett to be exact. She was beautiful… still is, which is one of the reasons my Grandpa, a young engineer at the time, fell in love with her at first sight. She is also quite a character and I probably get my dramatic traits from her. You don’t get many peaceful moments with Grandma Ernie.

When I was a little girl and would come visit her and Grandpa in North Little Rock she would consistently try and attempt to brainwash me into being a southerner. When addressing a group of people, he made me say non-words like “ya’ll” instead of my Wisconsinesque “you guys” . She dressed me up in hoop skirts and gowns that were a la’ Gone With the Wind. Her downstairs basement was decorated entirely in John Wayne memorabilia. Her favorite shirt has a picture of a young woman in a bonnet and underneath is the acronym, GRITS (Girls Raised In The South).

Grandma Ernie also loves Jesus. She was raised Southern Baptist until she went to a pentecostal Bible Study one night and Jesus delivered her from a horrific year long mental illness. She was Regional President of Aglow Ministries in the 70’s and now she is an avid fan of Mike Bickle’s Daily Devotional on GOD TV.

I’m not going to get to see her or any of my other family members this Christmas. I believe this will be my second Christmas away from my family and it is going to be rough though I do get to spend some quality time with friends. Tonight I had a nice chat with Grandma and giggled at the fact that Grandma always surprises me with her gift selections for me as she always decides to buy or make clothes for her only granddaughter. One year she bought me a cowgirl outfit, complete with the lariat and a red shirt covered in horses heads as well as a denim skirt. One year she handmade me a gown with black and white bows covering the entirety of the fabric. When I was 14 I was mortified as she presented me with a white, doily looking dress complete with pink and yellow smocking… I was pretty sure this was a replica of a dress I had when I was 4. A couple of years ago I opened my gift only to see a red sweater trimmed with fake red fur. Grandma informed me tonight with glee that she had found the perfect outfit for me at Dillards and she was so upset that I wouldn’t be there to open it in her presence. This is also my favorite part of Christmas; not because I think her selections are superb but because it reminds me that my family is one of the most unique commodities on the planet.