I’m a little late posting this for THIS year, or maybe I’m just waaaay early for next year? Ha. But, here are some ways I thought would be nice to celebrate Grandparent’s Day. But, in all honesty, please don’t save them up for that one special day a year. If you have grandparents living close, do some of these with them as soon and as often as you can. Time passes so quickly. Memories fade. The breath of life evaporates before we know it. Don’t let it get away from you. Our elders are a special treasure!
“Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth.” – Psalms 71:9
If your family doesn’t already have one, let the kids start a family pedigree chart with their grandparent. Let them do as much of the investigative work as they can to fill it in. First let them fill in their name in the center bottom space, and then just above it let them fill in the names of their dad and mom. Above those spaces are spaces for grandparents on the paternal and maternal sides. Spend a day or at least an afternoon with grandparents collecting information: names, birthplaces, careers, military, where family died and are buried. Ask for obituaries, photographs, family Bible notes, newspaper clippings and stories. It’s actually a lot of fun seeing where your family came from, not just ethnicity, but travels, both foreign and domestic. It’s also a great way to learn history. It means so much more and is so much more interesting when you find out you had actual family living in those times and places and events.
This is a Pedigree chart I created as a Christmas gift to my family last year. I took the digital file of the pedigree chart above to my local print shop (also Staples, Copy Max, Walgreens, and even Walmart can print them) and had it printed on poster-size paper. I printed mine in color on plain paper, but they can also be printed on photo paper, and then framed in poster size frames.
“Children’s children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.” – Proverbs 17:6
Beside the pedigree poster hanging on my wall I have a decorative tree with photos of hubby & me, our parents, and our grandparents, three generations.
On one of our visits to my husband’s folks’ house, we were blessed to have his uncle stop by for a visit. He was in town to speak at a local high school about his experiences as a soldier in WWII (Europe). He was often asked to speak at schools about his personal experiences, because he was such a gifted story-teller. He wrote a book as well, which we treasure having a copy of. We of course were very interested to hear his stories and so asked if he would share some with us, which he happily did. We all sat around in the living room listening intently as he told of being on the boat and being soooo sea sick and all the other men being soooo very sea sick also, and then being dropped on the battlefield, and of his experiences as a Forward Observer, which was very dangerous. I could kick myself a thousand times that we didn’t get video of that visit (which is why I make the suggestion to you now). It is just so moving to hear a personal relative tell of historical events from their own personal experience, and see their facial expressions, and watch their body language. It is just so much more captivating than a book in history class. So I encourage you, if you have a grandparent, ask them to tell you a story about some important time in their life and video tape it.
“Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD.” – Leviticus 19:32
Something our family DOES have, and I can tell you is an enormous treasure, is a compilation of my husband’s folks old home movies that they took on an old 8mm recorder. They had the movies transferred to VHS when that was the most modern thing, and gave us a copy. But as hubby and I were watching these silent movies, we realized that much of those people and places were unknown to us. So the next time his parents visited us we asked them to sit down and watch it with us and tell us where all those places were and who the people are. I set up a cassette recorder to record their narration. Many years later I took the old silent VHS and the narration on the cassettes and put them together on DVD. Then I made several copies and gave them as Christmas gifts for our family. It was the very next Christmas after grandpa had died and you can’t image what a treasure it was to the whole family to get to hear grandpa’s voice again, and laugh at his sense of humor, especially since the family had no idea we’d ever gotten that sound tract.
Also, if you have been to a funeral recently, most funeral homes ask the family to bring them old photos for a video slide show, set to music, to play during the service. Why wait until a person dies for this? Ask your grandparents now if you can borrow their old photographs, and then scan them into digital form and make a slide show of their lives from birth to old age. You can add captions to the photos that say where the photos were taken and who the people are, and you can also add a favorite song or songs of theirs to go along with it. Most computers have the software for making photo slide show DVD’s on them. I used Movie Maker to make DVD’s of our family vacations, weddings, and a memorial of our dad. It would be a nice trip down memory lane for them to get to see their lives laid out in such a way, and a special thing to share with them while they are living.
“And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.” – Ruth 4:15
Old Letters and Great Books
My husband’s dad served in Korea, and wrote letters home to his parents a couple times a week. We found the letters a while back, along with a bunch of pictures he took while in boot camp and on the front lines. We also were fortunate to get to inherit his army coat, a hat, and medals, maps, and various other personal objects from the war, along with the flag that was presented to the family at his funeral, and the bullet casings from the 21 gun salute. Altogether the letters and photos, and photos of the objects made a wonderful book that is and shall forever be a cherished keepsake for generations.
I also collected all our family history, stories, pedigrees, photos, birth, marriage, and death certificates, newspaper clippings, obituaries, maps, military histories and pension papers, pioneer stories, censuses, etc. and made it all into a book (first a ring binder, and then a printed, spiral bound book with a hard cover) to share with my sisters. I made scrapbook pages of the old photos and scanned those pages, and made separate chapters for each person, telling each person’s individual stories. I visited courthouses, libraries, and museums in the towns where they lived (the ones that were closeby) and collected as much information as I could about them and the history of those areas (marriage, divorce, land records, court records, if they played on baseball teams, delivered mail, or worked in local factories, or acted, sang, or danced in theatre, etc.). I visited cemetaries and churches and found headstones and church records. I visited newspaper offices and got old newspaper stories and obituaries. I will confess, it is a lot of work, but truly it is fun and rewarding work, and I sooooo encourage you to gather as much of this kind of information as you can from living relatives, while you can. Honor your parents and your grandparents by preserving their legacy in words and pictures. They will be delighted and honored to see all your efforts as well.
“The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head.” – Proverbs 20:29
What is your favorite thing that grandma makes? Why not make a date to make it with her, and for heaven sakes get her recipe! Get ALL her recipes, and make them into a cookbook. My husband’s family actually collected recipes from everyone in the family one year and made a family cookbook for all of us. We all contributed, and we all paid for our own copies of the book, and it is very much a prized possession of mine to this day. Each person that contributed recipes also told a story to go with it, like if it was the first meal they made for their husband, or if it was their mother’s favorite thing that they made, etc.
I have myself very fond memories of having picnics with my grandmother. She always made her standard cucumber sandwiches, hard boiled eggs with salt and pepper, and a thermos of iced tea. When’s the last time you went on a picnic with your grandma? Or soaked your feet in a tub of hose water in the back yard? …And listened to her tell stories about a time she got in trouble as a kid. …Or what it was like as a teenager going to school. …Or her first boyfriend, or first date. …Or what she and her brothers/sisters did for fun.
“Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.” – Psalms 71:18
Play a Game
My husband has fond memories of playing Yatzee with his grandmother. It was her favorite game to play, and if he could beat her he felt like it was a real accomplishment. Grandma was apparently very good at Yatzee. My grandma liked to play cards, and her game of choice to play with us kids was Rummy. She also showed us how to play Solitaire and let us play at the table while she cooked and baked. I also remember making card houses in the living room, using the carpet to help hold the cards in place. My sisters and I made elaborate card houses, some more fragile than others. Does your grandma or grandpa have a favorite game they like to play. Ask if you can come play it with them one afternoon. Or, take them to play Bingo, or Pinochle or Bridge at the Senior Center, dominoes, Cribbage, or take them bowling, or to play miniature golf, or darts. You might find out they’re pretty darn good at it.
“With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding.”
– Job 12:12
Go for a walk
Do some gardening (plant an herb garden in pots)
Go to church with them
Visit them and read them letters that they’ve gotten in the mail
Take grandma to get her hair and nails done
Take them to their doctor visits
Take them to the store to do their shopping, or run a few errands
Take them to a veterans memorial (if there is one with a spouse or loved one memorialized there)
Take them to a cemetery to put flowers on someone’s grave (for a loved one’s birthday rememberance, or veterans/memorial day)
Take them to a class reunion, or a small town annual get-together
Take them for a drive in the country
Play old records
Watch an old movie
Take them out for lunch
Invite them to your house for coffee (and devotions)
Take them to visit an old friend they haven’t seen in a while
Take them out for ice cream
Sit on a park bench and feed the birds, or the ducks (pond)
Take them for a boat ride (a little row boat across a pond or lake) and bring an umbrella for shade
Take them to a grandchild’s school event, or track meet, or soccer game
Take them to a rodeo, a fair, a car or horse race, or baseball game
Take them to lookout point after dark to look at the city lights
Ask them to teach you how to knit, crochet, sew, quilt, or tie a fly (fishing), etc.
Take them to the shooting range for some target practice
Rent a golf cart and take a drive through a scenic golf course
Take them for a drive to new parts of the city
Take them something you’ve baked or made and visit for an afternoon
Take a pizza and cokes and sit on the porch and eat it with them
Do something for them that is too hard for them to do themselves, but needs done, like vacuum, trim a tree, re-attach a rain gutter, paint, mow, move a hose, shovel a sidewalk, take mail out to the mailbox, light a pilot light, replace a lightbulb, put a heavy dish back up in the cupboard, put laundry away, etc.
Call and check on them at least once a week
Always tell them you love them, as often as you can
Send them cards and letters, with pictures
Pray with them and for them, for their health needs, and other needs
“The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.”