Motherhood, Marriage and Other Wild Rides

Health, Happiness and the Pursuit of Mommyhood

It’s National Grandparents Day! September 8, 2008

“Gramma is coming tomorrow,” my three-year-old Joseph reminded me today. (No, we didn’t plan my mom’s visit from Canada to coincide with Grandparent’s Day–just how organized do you think I am?) He then added thoughtfully, “I want Gramma to come first.” 

Joseph has really tightened his grip on the orders of operations. He has also learned altogether too well that often not-so-exciting stuff seems to come before the wonderful things: he has to eat dinner before he gets dessert, he has to take a nap before we go swimming, he has to put away his trains before he opens his crayons, etc. The holy grail is always one not-so-glorious activity away, it would appear.

Too bad Gramma’s flight doesn’t arrive until late in the day. My morning will be spent coming up with diversions, I can tell already.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of National Grandparent’s Day. To celebrate, 88-year-old Ohio resident Hazel Cole Kendle released 60,000 copies of Cole Family Christmas, a “true, tender, and wholly unforgettable tale that has been passed down from generation to generation through a coal miner’s family,” available through Next Chapter Press.

I bring this up for three reasons:
1.) I’m a sucker for anything Christmas, and even though it is yet the first week of September, the topic of holiday activities have already come up a few times. (For my husband, this is football season. He doesn’t want to hear about Christmas until after Thanksgiving. Hmm, making plans for Christmas already… maybe I’m more organized than I thought.)
2.) Mrs. Kendle is a FIRST-TIME author at age 88. As a  writer, this gives me tremendous hope for my own passion for the written word and longevity in my profession—Go, grandma, go!
3.) I loved my own grandmother, and a nod to this little-known holiday is but a small gesture of remembrance of her unconditional love and irrepressible joy for life.

“It’s a myth that young people don’t want to hear the stories their grandparents can tell,” explains Mrs. Kendle.  “However, too often grandparents and great-grandparents feel like they must wait to be asked before telling those stories. Realize that family members often won’t ask for the first story, but once you start talking, they’ll be begging for more.”

Jennifer Liu Bryan of Alexandria, Virginia, Kendle’s granddaughter-in-law and co-author, points out other ways to pass along family traditions. “Remember the favorite dessert your grandmother used to make or the dishes she received on her wedding day.  Each item serves as a connection to the past, but we have to work to keep that chain from breaking,” says Bryan.

Here are Kendle and Bryan’s top 10 ways families can preserve their memories this Grandparents Day.

1. Construct a family memory book.  Gather pictures of family members across generations and make a scrapbook by writing in the stories that have been passed on through generations.

2. Play a game the grandparents used to play.  Kids had fun long before video games were invented.  Play a game from the analog era to show the grandchildren how it was done.

3. Read a book your grandparents read when they were your age. Grandparents can make classic children’s literature even more rewarding by adding in details of what life was like at the time.

4. Learn how to cook grandma’s favorite recipe.  Whether that’s a traditional holiday dish or her secret cookie recipe, spend time in the kitchen with grandma cooking a recipe that can be passed down to the next generation.

5. Take part in a grandparent’s favorite hobby.  Whether that is painting, gardening, or putting together puzzles, spend time with your grandparents and learn about the daily activities that bring them joy.

6. Pick out one interesting, unique or strange family heirloom. Grandparents can explain the history of the item and why it is special to the family.

7. Learn where you came from.  Drive through your grandparents’ old neighborhood and listen to stories about their old neighbors or family outings at the local park.

8. Go back in time to the movies.  Rent a classic the grandparents enjoyed seeing on the big screen years ago.  There are plenty of great old movies other than just the ones that run during the holidays.

 9. Ask to look at your grandparent’s wedding pictures or high school yearbooks.  Learn about their best friends and see pictures of them when they were so much younger.

10.  Preserve a memory for future generations.  Make a home video with them and let them discuss their favorite stories.

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