To Grandmother’s house we go!

Tips for making the most of your time with grandma this Grandparent's Day

tips for a better grandparents day 2018
My grandmother is 92. She lives independently in her own home and only recently gave up driving. “Granny” has lived through the Depression and survived Polio. She was a working mom during June Cleaver’s time and has witnessed the amazing progression of technology. Sadly, she has also buried her parents, siblings, husband and most of her friends. She is in the winter of her life.

National Grandparent's Day

In 1978, President Jimmy Carter declared the first Sunday after Labor Day (this year it is September 9th) as National Grandparent’s Day. While some might see it as another Hallmark holiday, I see it as one more holiday with my grandmother and another opportunity for my children to spend time with their great-grandmother.

We recently had dinner at my parents’ house. Four generations of my family spent the afternoon talking, laughing and celebrating another year together. The age difference between the oldest and youngest generation was 80 years, but that did not inhibit the conversation.

Take lots of video

As the family historian, I brought my video camera along. My 92 year old grandmother often reminds us that we may not all be together next time. With the video camera recording, I asked my parents and grandmother some questions about their childhood. The kids were fascinated to hear that the generations before them did the same kind of things they did – go to school dances, ride their bikes and wear braces. My daughters were surprised to hear that “Granny” got her first doll and buggy at the age of 12.

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After our video session, my parents got up to check on dinner. My husband and son sat close by immersed in a game on TV. Afraid to lose the girls to their electronics, Granny had an idea.

“Linda,” she called to my mother, “Do you have any string?”

“It’s in the bottom drawer of the desk,” my mother said while waving in the direction of the desk in the kitchen.

My 12 year old daughter, Delaney, got up to get the ball of twine and a pair of scissors for Granny.

Have grandma (or grandpa) teach you something

“I’m going to show you how to play Cat’s Cradle,” Granny told my girls. This simple game from Granny’s childhood was lost with the advent of TV and video games. I remember my grandmother teaching me and my sister how to play when we were younger.

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I watched from the kitchen as Granny wrapped the string around her arthritic hands to set up the starting point of the game. I could hear her give instructions as I set the table in the dining room. 

“Michaela,” she explained to my 15 year old, “See these two X’s on the sides? You pinch them with your thumb and middle finger; bring them out and under and through until you have the string on your hands.”

The girls took turns trying to manipulate the string without knotting it. The three of them laughed as they dropped the string again and again. After a few failed attempts, my grandmother called me in for back up.

“Pam, can you show these girls how to do this?”

I stopped filling the glasses with ice and walked back to the family room. My grandmother had me set up the first game so she could show the girls how to pinch the X’s and bring them through. When she took the string on her hands, I showed the girls the next move. We continued for a few rounds until the girls felt confident enough to try it. They practiced under Granny’s guidance until they were called to dinner.

When we finished eating, the girls went back to the family room while the rest of us lingered at the table. I expected them to turn on the TV or text their friends, forgetting about the string that lay on the table. Instead, we watched as the next generation picked up the strings that has held us together for so long and continued the game.

Pam Molnar is a freelance journalist and mother of three. She hopes that her daughters will remember this moment when they pass the strings down to the next generation.