I recently discovered these letters as I was attempting to bring some order to my family files. These letters were written to Grandma Linda, my sweet companion, and helpmeet for 53 years. They arrived at Christmas and brought her a great deal of happiness and joy.
I share these letters hoping you will sense what is vital to young grandchildren—what they remember, what they like, and how they express their tender and sincere feelings.
Jake, the oldest of the letter writers, sent this Linda as a little boy. He is now in his 20s.
At the opening of his birthday letter, Jake expresses his feelings about Grandma Linda’s kindness, cleanliness, and capacity for loving everyone. As a relatively young little boy, this statement struck me: “You make everybody happier even when there are problems.” Like Jake, little people have a keen sense of how others feel, especially when there are problems. At a very young age, he knew his grandmother was a skilled peacemaker and kind problem solver. At the end of his letter, he fondly remembers his ride on the Polar Express—a Christmas gift for him, his cousins, aunts, and uncles. If possible, most gifts should be experiences rather than things. They are so much more memorable.
Maggie’s birthday note is similar to Jake’s. She expresses appreciation for family gatherings where cousins sleep together, enjoy fun meals, make crafts, and experience new and challenging experiences cherished and remembered almost forever. As was said before, young grandchildren are remarkably skilled in sensing their grandparents’ compassion or lack thereof.
Maggie makes mention of the “Cousin Book.” This book, which was given to each family,
featured each grandchild, revealing who they were, what they liked, and what they were doing at the time. It was a way of connecting all of us.
Our grandkids loved this book because it clearly portrayed each of their strengths and interests then. I will talk more about this book later in an upcoming blog.
For a while, we lived in a townhouse community that was very receptive to family activities. It had a small community pool that our grandchildren enjoyed several times during the summer.
Grandchildren, like Ellie, love activities that are very much planned for and suited to their needs. She mentioned Camp Rebekah. She was very young at the time, but she loved sleeping in a rustic cabin with her cousins, aunts, and uncles, eating under a pavilion, playing night games, and watching deer and other animals enter our camping area. There is no substitute for real, hands-on, unforgettable experiences with cousins and close relatives.
As you can imagine, Linda loved this letter. She especially treasured the last sentence of this birthday message. Letters like this one make us as grandparents feel better and give us a real sense of purpose.
Olivia is now almost 16. Her letter is brief but powerful. Again, young children like “nice” people. They have antennae that immediately sense whether they are in the presence of a “nice” person or a not-so-nice or mean person. Live's couplet at the end of the letter is almost New Testament like: “I love you because you love me.” It is a simple formula that works for most relationships—especially those with your grandchildren.
Rosie was a preschooler when she dictated this letter to her mother. This two-sentence letter says so much about the power of “letting” grandchildren into our lives. Grandparenting on purpose is all about forming and sustaining a warm and positive relationship with your grandchildren. At a very young age, Rosie and her Grandmother Linda launched their friendship in a playroom or in a room designed to nurture caring and positive relationships. They played. They talked. They became friends—really good friends.