I received one of the best early Christmas gifts on Sunday, December 4. It required no shopping or wrapping, just an openness to spontaneity. I will treasure it for the rest of my life.
Sunday afternoons are my time to relax before heading back to work. I may watch a little football, take a walk, or read the New York Times. It’s my time to do what I want to do instead of doing things I have to do the rest of the week.
On this particular Sunday, as my wife and I set out on our neighborhood walk, her phone rang. I heard her decline whatever was being offered. When the conversation ended, I asked what opportunity she had declined. Our son had invited us to visit the Oliver Mansion, known as Copshaholm, later that afternoon with his wife and our 3-year-old grandson. I have visited Copshaholm numerous times, and Christmas is the best time to see it, in all its Christmas-decorated splendor.
As my wife knows, I am not a spontaneous person. She has labelled me “highly routinized” and she is correct. But as we continued our walk, I mulled over the chance to see Copshaholm for the first time through my grandson’s eyes. By the time our walk was over, I had contacted our son to ask if I could join them. They said yes. My wife decided not to attend. Time away from me is her Sunday relaxation.
I drove downtown and parked in a packed lot near the museum campus entrance. I waited for them near the ticketing desk. When they texted me that they were already in the front hall of the mansion, I was stuck without a ticket. They had purchased their tickets (and mine) online, so I didn’t have one. Fortunately, the front desk employee understood what had happened and let me enter through the museum exhibit hall.
I walked outside the grand old house, by the carriage entrance, and to the enormous front doors. As I walked inside the elegant front entry, my grandson spotted me and ran across the room saying, “Grandpa!” and gave me a big hug. Many of the visitors saw this affectionate display, including a woman I know, but haven’t seen for years.
Was it my imagination, or did the old mansion glow brighter as a result of this heartwarming act of a child?
My favorite place inside Copshaholm, is a small window above J.D. Oliver’s office. Museum docents tell stories of the Oliver children peering down on their father from that perch. I was there to see my grandson look through that window.
As we toured the rest of the mansion, it was fun to see my grandson take in the decorations, the buttons to summon the servants, the trunk room, the tiny elevator, and the lavish furnishings. He even noticed the Christmas tree decorations in the music room were in the shape of musical notes.
The docent in one of the rooms had heard my grandson greet me, and was touched by it. He said it brought to his mind his own grandchildren. I found myself bragging about how smart my grandson is.
My mood was uplifted for days after my Copshaholm visit. I told anyone who would listen about the early Christmas gift my grandson gave me. I’m certain on future visits to Copshaholm, I will remember the welcome I got on that early December day.