My grandma always had a gift for everyone whether it would be a new Barbie, a doll, jewelry, or her stick-to-the-mouth–break-one's toes-if-it-fell-on-them fruitcake.  She could never say no to anyone; her home was your home.  She would open her heart and give to all.

Christmas was her favorite time of year, and she would spend the whole year preparing.  She would shop non-stop.  If I went shopping with her I would always get a gift then and, of course, there was always something hiding in the bag for Christmas too. 

I sometimes would catch a glimpse of something and gleam with excitement.  When Christmas came around I thought I knew with absolute certainty what I was getting and OH the disappointment when it wasn’t under the tree.  Grandma was a certified pack rat!  I would come to realize later in life that she purchased gifts years in advance – the

mysterious item in the bag that made me gleam would eventually end up under a dazzling tree, but about three years later.

Grandma’s small home, among other things, was a veritable flea market of new and carefully crafted handmade gifts.  I will always remember riding my pink and white bike, with the well-used banana seat to her house after school.  I would jump off my bike and sprint spiritedly up the concrete drive. 

I would enter the ample screened-in porch and stop and talk to the two pesky parakeets that “protected  her home", as my grandpa used to say, “from any unlucky intruders.” Upon entering the humble lair, I would have to decide which path to take to find grandma.  She had narrow paths all through her home that were lined with anything and everything that a person could ever want. 

The cluttered paths could lose even the most experienced of hikers - an intricate map might be needed if an unexpected guest should arrive. The exuberant years of Christmas shopping and