As far back as I can remember Christmas has been the apex of holidays for the Grants. Birthdays were not big events until Kellye Sue was born on Halloween after which birthdays (hers) and Halloween became festive events in the Grant household.
My love for Christmas carried on to my adult married life. The Christmas shown in these pictures is not the first Christmas of our marriage but it was the second. Nancy and I started dating in January 1969. Our first Christmas together was when I was in the Officer Basic Course at Fort Bliss, TX in 1969. I know we have some photos of that Christmas. I remember taking one of our pitiful little tree sitting on a table to get it some elevation. We moved to Key West, FL in January 1970 and these three photos are from that one Christmas we spent in tropical climes.
We lived in Navy CPO (Chief Petty Officer in the Navy, Non-commissioned Officer in every other branch) quarters at the Key West Naval Station housing area on Sigsbee Island. I was qualified for Junior Officer housing, but none were available and we were living in a single room in the Bachelor Officers Quarters at the time so we snatched up this adorable little duplex when it was offered. Our next door neighbors were Susan and Gale Ruskosky (sp?). Gale was a Lieutenant Junior Grade (First Lieutenant in all the other branches, are we seeing a trend here) serving on a diesel submarine. He was gone a lot. His wife Susan worked downtown in Key West for the Chamber of Commerce. They were great neighbors. We rarely saw Gale and Susan was very nice.
You can see in the photos that furnishings were pretty sparse, though I will say that to this day, I’ve never gotten a better tree than the one in these pictures. This was a Scottish Pine that had tiny pine cones on the branches. It was very full and I think we paid less than $5.00 at the Navy Exchange for it. Many of the decorations on the tree were homemade by my crafty wife. We still have some of those homemade ornaments and always make sure a few appear on our trees here 47 years later. I think we still have the stockings on the book case somewhere, but we have moved on from these to some nicer ones and we have a bunch more now. Only two of us then. Now we decorate with 6 stockings to cover the kids and grandkids. The little stand with the telephone on it was a tobacco stand that Nancy’s grandfather built. There was a little door in the front that would have been to hold the tobacco and other smoking paraphernalia, but we didn’t smoke so it became a telephone stand. It currently resides in the hall entry in our daughter Lori’s townhouse. We tend to keep things around here. The encyclopedia set in the book case were a sad example of failure to communicate. First the books were quite dated when we bought them shortly after we were married and living in El Paso, TX. We let the salesperson into our trailer and listened politely while she expounded on the value of the books for any future children we would likely have. I thought Nancy wanted to get them and she thought I wanted to get them. Had we taken the time to consult each other we likely would not have made that purchase with the money we did not have at the time. After we discovered our error we decided that those books would always have place in our home because though they were not great encyclopedias the lesson they taught us about communicating before a purchase would follow us through the rest of our lives. A few years ago we moved the books off of our shelf unit and Nancy, with the help of our friends Dede and Arlan Busk drilled a hole through the books and made a nice end table out of them. As I write this, the table of book construction is right behind me.
The dog in these pictures is Baron Von Grant, Baron for short. Baron was actually our second dog. The first, a rescue from the shelter in Key West turned out to not like children and since we had a bunch around us we had to take him back. I wanted Nancy to have a dog because I was gone nearly every other night with duty on my missile site. I don’t think Baron would have fended off any invaders, but he would certainly sound an alarm. We had Baron for a total of 8 years, but he began having some health issues about the time we had orders for a second trip to Germany in 1978. We gave him to a wonderful family in Oak Grove, LA. My mother was friends with the wife and they had no children. We heard that Baron became their child before he finally passed on when he was about 10 years old.
Nancy is beautiful as ever in this photo of her with Baron. I seem to have lost all shirts except for uniforms when we moved to Key West. Nearly every picture we have of me I am in shorts and shirtless. I’m pretty sure Nancy complained about me always being half naked, but I was too stubborn then to know that she is almost always right.
Our Christmas in Key West was special because we were young, in love, and still learning about each other. Of course, spending holidays with families is a special treat, but I believe that part of the reason that Nancy and I are still together, and respect each other so much, nearly 48 years later is because we had those first couple of Christmases without family. It gave us a chance to learn how to be a family ourselves. Of course, Christmas became much sweeter in 1973 with the arrival of Taryn Grant Peachey and then in 1978 with the addition of Lori Grant.
This year we will be spending Christmas with our daughters; our granddaughters, Katy Peachey and Sarabeth Peachey; brother Wayne Grant and his wife and sons, Mary Stohler Grant, Tyler Grant, and Ben Grant in Raleigh, NC. We will also have Mason McDaniel and his two cutie kids, Robbie and Stella to join us. We will miss members of our family who have passed on and those who are spending Christmas with their own families, and we wish them all the wonderfulness of the season. For those who have passed on, we’ll see you again.