Our grandson recently strolled through that imaginary “door” in his developing brain representing the “why” and “what” stage in his young life. He questions everything. So far, my favorites are his WHAT questions. The WHY interrogations tend to require very involved dissertations to adequately satisfy his wonder. On such short notice, this grandma’s brain is best equipped for only teeny snippet-size answers. I prefer three-word explanations, max!

There was this one time I was asked to explain WHAT the word “melt” meant when the butter magically disappeared after spreading it on his warm toast. We were making breakfast together. I recall thinking … “C’mon grandma … where is your snap, crackle and pop this early in the morning? I really shoulda seen that one coming.”

“Where did the butter go, Grandma?” Jacob asked.

“It melted,” I said.

“WHAT does ‘melt’ mean?” he asked, tilting his head to one side like he was just getting started with the questions.

Bottom line … Jacob didn’t care for any of my lame explanations. Oops … it just disappeared … wasn’t even close to an adequate answer. I remember wondering where was Jacob’s science-loving Pop-Pop when you really needed him? He woulda had a great answer for the lad. I coulda just slowly stepped back and snuck off to fold a couple loads of laundry while his whole long-division answer was just starting to unfold.

It was a couple of weeks ago when I saw the Jacob’s WHAT question resurface right after our awesome son-in-law helped Pop-Pop retrieve the heavy Christmas boxes from the attic.

“I need your help putting up the Christmas tree,” Pop-Pop said to Jacob afterward, while tugging on the tape from the largest box in the group.

I could tell by the look on Jacob’s face he was a tad confused. He was not so familiar with artificial Christmas trees. He seemed to be thinking … really … a Christmas tree in a box? Each year his parents trek their young family out into the wilds of a Christmas tree farm to cut down their tree. It is such a cool tradition. One we just never tried, probably because such places obviously can’t be wheelchair-friendly for Mimi, our special needs daughter.

That is not to say that we haven’t in the past enjoyed the real thing with all it’s fabulous fragrances. But then there was the year we had our very own Charlie Brown tree that dropped needles when you looked sideways at it. I totally blame it on one of those particularly warm December heatwaves on record.

It was a couple of days before Christmas when our very dry tree lost every single pine needle in a large dry puddle on the Christmas tree skirt and carpet. Talk about a fire hazard. We couldn’t retrieve the ornaments and lights off the tree fast enough to get the tree out the back door. I think I had the fire department on speed dial just in case the tree decided to spontaneously combust.

It was the next year we purchased our first artificial tree and haven’t looked back. We have had several versions of fake, or reproduction, trees since then. Our current artificial version is just a couple of years old. It came in three easy “pieces” with tons of little white lights. My only gripe, a minor one, is fluffing that fake tree properly takes a couple of hours.

Before we got close to plugging in the Christmas lights, I could see twinkling lights of all colors going off in Jacob’s head.

“Wow! WHAT are you doing, Pop-Pop?” Jacob queried, as the bottom section was planted and the middle section snuggled into the receiving hole.

I just stood way back from the action and let the two boys chat it out about pretend Christmas trees and real ones. It was a sight to behold.

I feel certain the HOW and WHERE questions will be kicking in very soon. I’ve got my iPad ready for the dude this time. I hear if you don’t have a Pop-Pop available, YouTube can answer most questions after Grandma’s three-word answers fall down on the job!

Dixie Frantz is a Kingwood resident and newspaper columnist for the past 21 years. Email comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. You can also visit Dixie’s blog at www.lifesloosethreads.com.

Dixie Frantz
Author: Dixie FrantzWebsite: http://www.lifesloosethreads.comEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I am a long-time Houstonian in love with writing, blogging, travel, quilting and reading. I have written “You Gotta Laugh,” a humorous newspaper column, for the past 21 years. The columns showcase the funny, amusing and sometimes touching slices of life from the suburbs. My writing credentials include more than 430 humorous columns, features and travel stories for The Tribune Newspaper.