Grandparents and gifts; two words that often go together. On Grandparents Day, I find myself reflecting not back on my own relationships, but at the relationships my son is building with all six of his grandparent relationships. Gifts, however, go far beyond the tangible items offered. It’s the gift inside that holds the true treasure; the lessons of life that are shared just by being who they are.
Spending the day fishing with grandpa brings my son the gift of learning a hobby, of sticking with something until he gets the hang of it. It’s the joy when it finally comes together, he land the first fish and there is delight on both his and grandpa’s face. It’s learning to play practical jokes and be silly, because laughter is good for our souls. With each use of the personalized wooden step stool he and grandpa built together, it says there is value in dedication and skill that goes into building something by hand.
The gift is more than the quarters and comics included in the handwritten notes from grandma. It holds the message to let my son know he is loved just because. As envelopes are torn open, it reminds him to take a moment, write a note and say hello. The tales grandma tells of days gone by offer history and tradition; a reminder that he is part of a family that has solid roots and a strong foundation.
Time spent in the garden with grandma extends beyond getting dirty and eating green beans off the vine. It’s learning that hard work pays off. Be good to the earth and it can be good to you. It holds the lesson of tending to things gently and appreciating the beauty of God’s bounty. Being side by side with her, observing that her aging hands don’t work as easily or as quickly, my son learns that it’s important to slow down and offer a helping hand.
Granddad, though no longer living, bestows the gift of timeless love. Regardless that his physical self is gone, we can hold onto memories and feel his lasting impression on our hearts. He remains alive in our stories and the similarities we have with him. Our son has witnessed that long after granddad is gone, and his memory is still loved and celebrated and his impact on people endures.
When out next-door neighbors, our son’s surrogate grandparents, deliver homemade cookies, or attend lemonade stands and school concert nights, our son slowly grasps that love isn’t reserved just for family members. He builds trusts that he can count on others and slowly comprehends that friendships can span generations.
When it really comes down to it, grandparents are the gift on Grandparents Day. Whether they come wrapped in shiny paper, with an outlandish bow or two, or a simple brown paper bag, the true collectible cannot be unwrapped. The gifts that will stand the test of time cannot be held in our hands. They are the intangibles, the riches held in our hearts and memories.