Have a Grand Day: September 11

Do you know that the first Sunday after Labor Day is National Grandparents Day? This special day is meant to celebrate the important bonds between grandparents and grandchildren.

You can mark this day in whichever way suits your family best. Grandparents might give and/or receive presents. You might gather for a festive meal or make cards for each other. Be as creative as you like in how you celebrate, but I recommend that you let the usual suspects know that this special day is soon approaching.

Of course, the gift that most grandparents greatly appreciate is time. Assuming that your grands live nearby, make plans to spend at least part of the day together, if possible. If you can’t be with your grand in person, make use of snail mail, the phone or whatever technology you favor. Check out some of my ideas for long-distance grandparents.

If your grands are young(ish), this would be a good time to establish a tradition tied to Grandparents Day. Children love traditions and they can usually be modified and tweaked to accommodate older children and teens.

A tradition need not be something elaborate, complicated or expensive; it need only be mutually pleasant and lovingly associated with this day…and you.

Since the weather is still nice this time of year, you might choose to do something outside, like have a picnic. For young children, a blanket in the backyard with some treats and bubbles would be grand. Maybe add a book to the mix, such as The Teddy Bears’ Picnic. Kids love to choose the menu, so take them to the store with you and then prepare your picnic lunch together. Get some great menu ideas from the Teddy Bears’ Picnic Cookbook. Older children would enjoy a bike trip to a park or the beach for their picnic. Spread a blanket on the family room floor for rainy day picnics.

Actually, there is no end of ideas for things to do together and places to visit, depending upon your interests. Your grands might have some suggestions of their own. I’m just going to offer a few more ideas:

~ Look through old picture albums and talk about your youth. Tell funny stories about when their parents were little.

~ Make a trip to a different museum (remember to get a memento at the museum shop) or library each year.

~ Work on a craft together. Do you knit or crochet? Teach your grand. Go to one of those cute pottery-painting shops and go crazy.

~ Create art and frame or laminate it. Art, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. I love to make collages; pick a theme (e.g., your grand, you, your family), cut out corresponding pictures and words from old magazines and catalogues and glue or tape them down on a cardboard poster. Use eco-friendly art supplies.

~ Let your grands interview you through writing and recording.

~ Make sure to take pics of your time together and create an album. Or organize photos of you and your grand taken throughout the year and document each year. You might want to use a service, such as Shutterfly, for your book.

~ Go fishing.

~ Do some simple yoga together.

~ Cook something special together.

~ Volunteer together.

~ Make ice cream, using fruit you buy together at the farmers’ market.

~ Have a sleepover at your house. Make popcorn and watch a movie, have a game night, or get Unbored.

~ If you want to splurge (or have a great coupon), spend the night at a local hotel with a pool and other family-friendly amenities.

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Stories that celebrate the connection between a grandparent and a grandchild can be a starting point for rewarding and bonding conversations. A trip to a bookstore or library will yield many such choices—just check with the salesperson or the librarian. To get you started, here are a few picture book titles:

~ My Bibi Always Remembers by Toni Buzzeo captures the heartwarming relationship between grandparents and grandchildren through this tale of a curious baby elephant who wants to be just like her grandmother——a wonderful read-aloud.

~ I have a Grandma who… by Rosemary Zibart presents contemporary and diverse grandmothers as bold, imaginative and talented women in the the act of sharing their respective gifts with their cherished grandchildren.

~ The Frank Show by David Mackintosh features a boy who discovers his grandpa is wiser and a lot more interesting than he realized.

~ Grammy Lamby and the Secret Handshake by Kate Klise also shows us a boy who finds his grandmother embarrassing but comes to realize how special she is.

~ Grandpa Green by Lane Smith, who won his second Caldecott Honor for this book, is a timeless story of family history, legacy and love with outstanding illustrations.

~ How to Babysit a Grandpa by Jean Reagan is filled with warmth and humor and is a perfect book to read to your grand.

~ Abuela by Arthur Dorros offers up a beautifully-illustrated fantasy of a little girl and her grandmother floating over Manhattan. Spanish words and phrases are deftly interwoven into the story.

~ Little Critter, Grandma, Grandpa & Me by Mercer Mayer is part of the enjoyable and colorful Little Critter series. Little Critter has a fun-filled sleepover at his grandparents’ farm.

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