Honoring Grandparents

snapfish.bmpThis Sunday is Grandparents Day, and whether grandparents are near or far, there are many simple yet meaningful ways to express your appreciation for these beloved family members. Here are my 10 favorite ways to honor grandparents, for this weekend and beyond.

Pick up the phone. This is the easiest - yet often forgotten - way to show that you and your kids care.

Share a memory. You and your parents likely will have different perspectives on your growing up, and your perspective on their parenting also probably has shifted now that you’re a parent. Whether in written or verbal form, share a childhood memory with your parent(s). If relevant, tie the memory in to something you have experienced with your kids.

Pay your respects. Some might find this a little odd, but I always make a point of asking Laurel whether she’d like to join me when I visit the Koh family plot to pay respects to my father and grandparents at various points throughout the year. These experiences have helped remove the stigma around talking about the loss of loved ones, and also have fostered Laurel’s appreciation for her extended family, both living and deceased. Whenever we go, she always wants to help pick out and arrange flowers at the plot, and bring artwork and notes (in plastic Ziploc bags) to leave with the flowers.

Make a photo or video montage. I’ve found that with Laurel’s grandparents and great-grandparents, photo and video gifts are always a hit. Assemble a print or digital photo (or video) montage on CD or DVD, loaded with pictures of the little ones, including as many pictures of the grandparents as possible.

Make a photo calendar. A nice, high use variation of the photo/video montage is to collect favorite multigenerational digital photos and make a photo calendar. We created these calendars for Laurel’s grandparents a couple of years back and they were a huge hit, both emotionally and functionally. It’s easy to create these calendars at places like Snapfish and Kodak Gallery.

Enlist the grandkids. Give the precious gift of kiddie art while fostering your child’s love for color and sensory projects, using materials such as gel or sponge paints, crayons, or dot markers. Window art makes a great project for preschoolers and up.

Give a non-clutter gift. I’m all about giving gifts that people actually can use and don’t cause clutter (particularly following a summer where my siblings and I filled 2 enormous dumpsters to help my mother clean out her house). If you love giving traditional gifts (beyond the photo/art ideas above), consider giving useful self-care gifts such as massage or yoga class gift certificates, or high use items such as yummy smelling soaps, cool stationery, pretty dishtowels and cloth napkins, or gourmet food items.

Encourage physical activity. Among the best things that older folks can do is to keep active, both physically and cognitively (the latter through reading, crosswords, etc.). If grandparents are local, offer to be a walking buddy, either solo or by bringing your child along in a sling, stroller, or on foot.

Make a meal. Coming from an upbringing where my mother cooked an amazing amount of meals for a ridiculous number of people, I really love having the opportunity to serve her (or Jon’s parents) a yummy meal. Invite the grandparents over for a meal, and let them kick up their heels and enjoy their grandkids while you prepare the food.

Help with a home project. Give the gift of your technological skills, handiness, or general ability to run errands quickly, by helping with a home project, such as fixing a buggy computer, helping set up a new computer, hanging pictures, helping plant flowers in a garden, or doing a grocery run.