I just spent two short days with my 18 year old grandson, Pete, and his dad. They drove through snow, sleep, rain, wind and then fog from Nebraska to Connecticut to pick up a sofa and some other things we wanted to give them. And they really did drive through all that. The weather from the midwest to the east coast was terrible on Thursday and Friday.
They arrived tired but safely. After dinner my grandson approached me in the kitchen. “What about our tradition”, he asked. For a moment I was confused. Did I miss something in the meal or did he want an ice cream sundae? “No”, he responded, “the morning” he hinted. I instantly knew what he meant. Dunkin Donuts! Since he was old enough to eat a donut, we would get up in the morning and head for the donuts. They didn’t have a Dunkin Donuts in Nebraska until a couple of years ago. And they are still about 45 minutes away from where he lives. So, the next morning, out we went. Just the two of us to get coffee for me and donuts and hot chocolate for him. I love my alone time with my grandkids. We get to chat about stuff…his plans for college next year as well as joining the Marines. I am so very proud of him.
Later, he wanted to look through albums of homes we have lived in and he has visited throughout his life. And then…we headed upstairs to the playhouse my husband built for the kids into a crawlspace off a bonus room. We sat on the floor as he looked at and played with toys he remembered playing with throughout the years. A Fisher Price toy that you drop balls into as you press a button, car carriers, a very loud firetruck, a tank that when you press the buttons either makes a siren sound or shouts commands and then the bag of soldiers and toy planes. He was having so much fun remembering and I knew for sure that many of these toys will never be given away until one of my grandchildren has kids. Just maybe one of the toy planes will even show up as part of Petes’ graduation present.
And here’s another memory/tradition. He remembered always having oatmeal with the dinosaur eggs in it. I am not even sure they make it anymore. But I am going to scout it out. Of course there were the bedtime stories and snuggles in the towel after a bath and Grandma camp in the summer. The point is, what we do with our kids and grandkids really matters. They remember and it forms a special bond between us. There is no amount of money that means as much. It is about time spent together, playing, sharing and talking.
Some of my warmest memories as a kid were of hearing stories about children in Russia and making strudel with my grandmother. My grandparents taught me the game gin rummy. They made me feel important and safe.
In this very hectic world it is important to get out kids and grandkids off their electronics and establish traditions. Eating dinner together, sharing conversations and food, playing games and yes going out for donuts are all ways of laying the foundation for solid relationships and telling kids we love them.
I would love to know what traditions you have with your kids and grandkids. You might try asking them what things they find most meaningful in your family and with you personally. Spend a few minutes thinking of traditions you had with your parents, grandparents or other special relative. I suspect it will bring you a few moments of joy!