When it comes to Grandparents’ Day Gifts, What is Essential is Invisible to the Eye (Except Cookies!)
Grandparents’ Day is this Sunday, September 12th. Grandparents’ Day often goes by unnoticed, but it’s been an official holiday since 1979. The upcoming Grandparents’ Day has me thinking about the gifts from my grandchildren. I love homemade presents, like my grandchildren’s artwork, macaroni necklaces, and photographs, but the best gifts can’t be wrapped. That thought gives me an excuse to use one of my favorite quotes, “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” (from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery) My grandchildren, Callister and Sylvia, are four years old and almost one year old, and the gifts they bring to my life are precious but intangible. I’m sure the list could go on and on, but here are the top ten (primarily invisible) gifts my grandchildren have given me.
I love the curious minds of the young. I have learned so much about dinosaurs, ocean life, and trucks in the last four years! As my grandchildren and I read, topics often pique our interest and drive us to learn more. Callister loves science, so we have “Science Sundays,” where we do simple science experiments. I was never a science person, so I find myself learning right along with Callister. That quest for knowledge and learning is inspiring!
There are times I want to give in and just relish being old. I’m tempted to rest my weary old bones in my rocker and be content with being sedentary. However, I also want to play tag, swim, and hike with my grandkids. If I’m honest, my bar is set pretty low. I like to think I can run and climb with my grandkids, but my real goal is to get back up off the floor after playing.
There are two kinds of flexibility, and I struggle with both. (See #3.) I like to have a plan and stick with it. Covid has been a challenge for a planner like me, but fortunately, I was somewhat prepared because I have grandkids! As we age, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut, to become resistant to change. Grandchildren necessitate me adopting a more flexible attitude and a willingness to change the plans according to their needs.
Grandkids give me an excuse to keep the cookie jar full! I love baking, and Callister can usually be coaxed into doing a baking project with me. I’m not sure there is a more quintessential grandmother-grandchild activity than baking cookies together. We enjoy the fruits of our labor, and sometimes, we even practice that skill called sharing. Sometimes.
This may sound egotistical, but having grandchildren is the opportunity to leave a legacy of love. I hope to live long enough they will remember our time together, but if not, I hope they will always carry that seed of love in their heart. I’m planting feelings of being loved in the way only a grandparent can – irrationally, unconditionally, to infinity and beyond. According to David Eagleman, “There are three deaths. The first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time.” Having grandchildren prolongs that third death. How is that for narcissistic?
When I’m with my grandkids, I immerse myself in play. Do you remember how much fun it is to unplug from all your devices, forget your troubles, and indulge in building tall lego towers, working on puzzles, singing silly songs, or playing Hungry, Hungry Hippos? Playing is the work that grows children’s minds and spirits. Of course, play is excellent for a grandmother’s spirit also.
I had somehow forgotten that the floor is made of hot lava. It had been years since I laid on my back looking at the sky for so long that clouds begin to resemble familiar shapes. And recently, my grandson told me that aliens from Saturn are coming down to wipe away all the bad germs that are making everyone sick (ok, that one was kind of sad).
The most precious gift we can give anyone is our most valuable commodity, time. I think of the time my grandchildren and I spend together as building a strong foundation for the future. Right now, they love spending time with us, but I know as they get older, we will lose our “cool” factor, and they will be less anxious to visit the old people. That’s why we need to build a pool. We’re not too proud to resort to bribery.
Grandchildren bring joy into our lives. It’s almost impossible to feel sad when grandkids are visiting. They come in our front door oozing joy. Their brand of joy is loud and a little wild, sometimes messy, and always contagious. I hope they feel that joy aimed right back at them.
All you need is love. The Beatles sang it, and we all wanted to believe it. The truth is it helps to have food, clothing, shelter, and a 401(k), but that’s not our grandchildren’s problem. All I need from them is love. Callister and I have an ongoing game where I tell him how much I love him – bigger than a Tyrannosaurus Rex, higher than a mountain, and deeper than an ocean. With a sly smile on his face, he tells me he only loves me a tiny bit. Then he’ll tease me with the possibility he loves me a medium amount, but I’m patient because I know what’s coming. By the end of our visit, he will almost always reward me with a tight hug and says, “I love you big, big, big, Grandmom!” In that moment I know the Beatles were right, all I need is love!
The grandparent and grandchild is a relationship worthy of celebrating, not just on Grandparents Day but all year long! The love between grandparents and grandchildren is so pure and unfettered by responsibility. It’s hard to know who benefits more from that intergenerational connection, but I think it’s fair to say it’s a win-win for all of us. As the Irish blessing says, “Children are the rainbow of life. Grandchildren are the pot of gold.” Happy Grandparents Day to everyone who has found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! I hope you get lots of invisible presents for Grandparents’ Day!
The best present of all!