Eight Ways to Show Love and Appreciation
by Judy M. Miller
Grandparents offer sage advice, wisdom and wonderful “listening ears.” Sometimes, especially when mom and dad aren’t around, they let their grandkids get away with things their parents won’t. President Jimmy Carter recognized the importance of grandparents when he made Grandparents Day a national holiday in 1978. The holiday falls on the first Sunday after the Labor Day weekend, this year Sept. 7. How can you and your children show love and appreciation for grandparents? Here are some of my favorite family-tested ideas.
Sites like Shutterfly and Snapfish have easy-to-use templates in which you can include pictures of the grandchildren (with and without grandparents), artwork, pictures of drawings, poems, stories, and anything else that has been saved and can be uploaded as JPEGs. The only limitation is your imagination.
Grandparents love to brag about their grandbabies, no matter what their ages. A brag book full of current pictures makes it easy. I created a number of brag books for the grandparents when my four were really young, and continue to update them. Keep the brag books small, a size that can fits conveniently into grandma’s purse and can be readily shared. The smaller size is also much easier for hands that may not be as nimble as they used to be.
With the digital age, hard copies of pictures aren’t shared and framed like they used to be. Single? A collage? What about a handmade frame with the picture? Check out your local pottery painting studio or craft store for inspirational ideas. Consider purchasing a digital frame if you want to give the grandparents multiple pictures. The frame allows grandparents to view a revolving set of pictures that have been uploaded via a memory card, USB, or a wired or wireless connection to the home’s network. The digital frames range in physical size, style and storage capacity.
We generously give “love” coupons in our family. These special and personal handmade coupons can be embellished with stickers, drawings, puffy paint, artwork, etc. The ideas are endless, but a few of our favorites are for picnics in the park, library or reading time, and baking together. Allow the kids to lead on what they and their grandparents like to do. The emphasis of our coupons is the gift of time to foster deeper connections and lasting memories.
We love board games and cards. They’re a multi-generational and expected pastime within our family. Games teach kids fairness, patience, strategy, teamwork, and good sportsmanship. Make sure the games will work well with and hold the interest of the ages of the grandkids and grandparents. For example, most ages can play Dizios, but this does not hold true of Bananagrams.
Do the grandparents enjoy movies? How about a movie night and sleepover, complete with popcorn and/or the grandparents’ favorite snacks? You might want to save this special night for a cool or cold evening when the kids can snuggle in with their grandparents, in front of a fire in the fireplace.
Help the kids create a list of open-ended questions to ask. The interview can be recorded. You can also dedicate a journal for this purpose, preferably created by the kids, something like “The Biography of ____________, My Grandpa.” If you opt for the journal, the list of questions can be in the front pages. Sharing stories is bonding. Grandchildren also learn surprising and wonderful things about their grandparents and are able to see them as more than “just” grandparents. They learn to appreciate what their grandparents have experienced.
Create a “Why we love…” poster. The kids can construct and decorate a poster small enough to fit somewhere visible on one of their grandparents’ wall. Again, leave the kids to their imaginations. One thing fun we have done is to include a hand-in-hand area, the child’s hand outlined in pencil, ink, paint, glitter glue, or puffy paint, inside the shape of the grandparent’s hand, also outlined in a contrasting color. This can be added before or after the gift is given. Put a date next to the outlines.
The ideas to honor and celebrate grandparents are endless. Get the kids started early because if they are anything like mine, they will spend a lot of time creating something special for these remarkable people in their lives. And grandparents will appreciate knowing they matter and are loved.