The last Christmas Eve at grandma's house

A few personal snapshots from Christmas Eve at my Grandma Franks' house that I’m just now sorting through. Grandma had just died two days earlier at the age of 94 and had managed to live at home almost right up to the end, except for the last couple of months in a care facility.

My mom’s side of the family is large and close but Grandma had long since stopped hosting family gatherings at her house, which my grandpa built and my mom and her four siblings grew up in. Five kids, 11 grandchildren, spouses and oodles of great grandchildren… it’s more than a nonagenarian should have to deal with in her own home.

But since she wasn’t living at home anymore, the family had already planned to have Christmas Eve at her house for one last time this year. This was one of my favorite Christmas traditions when I was a kid (partly because the number of gifts grandparents and four sets of aunts and uncles can give you is astounding.)

In a very cool way, the house itself hadn’t changed that much since the 1950s and was always like walking into a retro furniture store or 1950s museum. As I hit my 30s, I grew more and more amazed that Grandma Franks still lived there and I could walk around my mom's childhood home. The house always felt like a character in the family as much as anyone else and was a perfect backdrop during the holidays. It had been more than 15 years since I have seen this much family in the house and it felt very natural and wonderful, even if it was for the last time.

The most prized possession of Grandma's: the amazing painting of a lake with a light inside. Apparently, my Mom and her sisters (including Aunt Trish, right) used to kiss boys under it during dates. 

The most prized possession of Grandma's: the amazing painting of a lake with a light inside. Apparently, my Mom and her sisters (including Aunt Trish, right) used to kiss boys under it during dates. 

Red cups and paper plates are staples of our gatherings. 

Red cups and paper plates are staples of our gatherings. 

 Grandma's house on Christmas Eve and the funeral on Dec. 26, 2014. (Photos by Brad Zweerink)
And a few pictures that I took at Grandma's house back in 2012. 

And a few pictures that I took at Grandma's house back in 2012.