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Gift giving: To Nana, With Love

How I Taught My Grandkids the Fine Art of Gift-Giving  |  By Polly Tafrate


For years, Christmas morning was always the same: my grandchildren’s frenzied opening of their presents, followed by a grandkid handing me a beautifully wrapped present with everyone’s name on the tag — but never waiting to see me unwrap it or acknowledging my thank-you. It was time for a lesson in gift giving.

Dear Children:

You keep asking what I want for Christmas. Now, I’ve decided.

Please take your kids shopping and let them choose a present for me. It doesn’t have to be expensive (a fancy bar of soap will do), but I want it to be something they choose. Then, take it home; give the kids wrapping paper, scissors, and tape; and leave the room. That way, the gift will truly be from them.

Love, Mom

When Christmas morning arrived, 4-year-old Samantha danced gleefully into our house and immediately handed me a lumpy package slathered with tape. “Merry Christmas, Grandma!”

When I removed the layers of pink-glitter paper to reveal a ceramic Christmas tree music box, I gasped and Samantha clapped her hands with delight. She helped me wind it up so we could hear “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” — dozens of times.

A little later, her 7-year-old brother, Jacob, handed me a package wrapped in outer-space paper. His enthusiasm wasn’t as overt as his sister’s, but he grinned and watched intently, eyes twinkling, as I unwrapped a small glass pyramid.

“To remind you of your trip to Egypt,” he said.

watching his cousins give me their gifts, 4-year old Jackson pestered his dad to get his from the car. Handing it to me, he warned, “It breaks.”

I carefully peeled off the silver foil paper, uncovering a large ceramic plate Jackson had made at school. He told me how he’d rolled the clay, then painted and glazed it. When I turned it over, I was tickled to see his little fingerprints embedded in the clay. We decided it would be the plate for Santa’s cookies.

Jackson’s older sister, Isabel, waited until bedtime to give me her gift. We share a love of books, and she’d copied a passage from one of her favorites in her second-grader handwriting.

I lavished hugs and kisses on each child and repeatedly thanked them for their wonderful gifts. Apparently, they couldn’t hear it enough, for over the next few days, they each repeatedly asked, “Grandma, do you really like my present?”

“Love it!” I’d say. “It’s absolutely perfect.”


Polly Tafrate enjoys writing about everything from education to exotic travel and especially her seven grands.


Got a special memory about your grandparents or grandchildren you’d like to share in GRAND Magazine? Please send us your story (350–500 words), and include your name and email address.


Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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