There’s nothing like grandkids to put the ho-ho-ho back in your holidays. Much of the magic went away when your children grew up and left home, but it returns like a custom-order boomerang as soon as you have grandchildren.
These cheery cherubs, who can brighten up any old day with their quirky questions and disarming smiles, give you a fresh perspective on the joys and wonders of this special time of year.
What could be better than unwrapping Lily’s first clay handprint with the tiny chip that makes it more endearing? Or watching Jack attack a caramel apple minus his two front teeth?
Drive the grandkids around to look at decorations or lead them in a boisterous rendition of “The Chipmunk Song,” and you’ll be filled with memories of your own childhood holidays.
Remember the best gift you received as a child? Perhaps it was that Mickey Mantle glove that brought you and your dad closer together or the Twister game that tried to pull everybody apart. Close your eyes and you can still hear the whistle of your Lionel train or the “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” playing on your ballerina music box.
Funny how almost everything you wished for back then was different from the things you’re hoping for now.
The Baby-Boomer Holiday Wish List
|Ribbon candy and foil-covered chocolate coins||See’s, nothing but See’s|
|A bigger allowance||A bigger 401(k)|
|Higher grades||Lower cholesterol|
|Win the soapbox derby||Win the lottery|
|A shiny new bell for your bicycle||A shiny new car for your driveway|
|Cool shoes||Comfortable shoes|
|A backyard playhouse||An oceanfront estate|
|Stay up all night||Sleep through the night|
|Balcony seats for The Rolling Stones||Front row seats for The Rolling Stones|
|Grow up faster||Grow old slower|
With the renewed holiday spirit that grandchildren bring to your life and the unique brand of merry mayhem today’s youngsters can stir up, your seasonal activities as a grandparent could go something like this.
Ask the smaller tykes to make ornaments for a special kids-only tree, and they’ll probably provide felt snowmen, construction paper chains and odd but interesting pipe-cleaner creatures.
Extend the same invitation to your tween-aged grandkids, and they’ll come up with downloaded photos of Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Beyoncé. Not quite what you had in mind, but it’s their tree. And you have to applaud their ingenuity.
Things probably won’t be cookie-cutter perfect when the cutie-patooties help you with holiday baking either. After you convince them that clean hands make for better-tasting goodies, be on the lookout for big-nosed monsters or other non-holiday shapes they’ll try to sneak onto the cookie sheets. Don’t be surprised if everybody winds up in a giant flour fight long before the first batch of doughy angels, stars, snowflakes – and who knows what else – goes into the oven.
Giving and Receiving
Get creative with personalized gifts for your grandkids, like Kayla Day, when it’ll be just you and Kayla doing her favorite things. (To be followed immediately by My Day, when you do absolutely nothing for twenty-four hours to recover.)
Almost as much fun as giving presents to your grandkids is seeing what they come up with for you, particularly if they make the gifts themselves. Young Jacob will be bursting with excitement as you open his elbow macaroni picture of . . . let’s see, is it a cat, a tree or his favorite character from Sesame Street? No matter who or what, you’ll love it.
Sometimes your grandchildren’s gifts have their own secret strategies. Like the spice jars Grace and Zachary decorate for you and fill with their favorite Jelly Bellies. Or the Fuddruckers gift certificate Daniel can’t wait for you to open. He’s confident you wouldn’t think of asking anybody to accompany you there but him.
The Holiday Feast
All too many boomers live with the memory of being routinely banished to the children’s table in the kitchen when holiday mealtime rolled around. Oh, the sense of rejection. But that’s the ghost of holidays – and therapy sessions – past, and there’s so much to celebrate in the present.
Now the kids get to sit at the big table with the grown-ups, and they put on quite a show. The little ones shriek, crawl under the table and claim not to be hungry while expertly smooshing potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce into a ghastly soup on their plates. Not five minutes later, they’re dishing up big helpings of Jell-o salad.
The older kids aren’t any better. They act bored with the proceedings while focusing their attention on all those electronic devices they can’t live without.
Overly permissive parenting, you’ll bite your tongue not to say as you issue the holiday ultimatum: “Behave yourselves or we bring out the fruitcake.”
Maybe the kids’ table wasn’t such a bad idea after all.
Diana J. Ewing is the author of The Baby Boomers’ Guide to Grandparenting