I love my grandparents, and I know how lucky I am to still have them in my life. To learn from them, to love them and to spend time with them.
Unfortunately, not all millennials recognize the importance of visiting their grandparents, more than just on holidays. And it’s time to try to change that. There is so much to learn, and so much to love, when it comes to spending time with your grandparents.
Yes, your grandparents will always be blunt. They’re old enough to remember “the old days” and have lived through enough tragedy and triumph to be able to tell the difference between a catastrophe and a minor setback. They have raised children, doted on grandchildren (and potentially great grandchildren), embarked on adventures in their personal and professional lives and now they are in their precious twilight years. Many may have immigrated to this country for a better life — for their children, and for you.
If you are lucky enough to have a grandparent (or surrogate grandparent) to spend time with, then you are lucky enough to benefit from their years of wisdom. If you haven’t already taken advantage of this, it’s time to.
Learn about your family history
Can’t remember which one of your family members was a nurse or a card shark? Can’t remember your parents’ anniversary or a great (but embarrassing) story to share with your friends about your sibling? You can bet that your grandparents know it all! They usually have detailed memories about those members of your family you only see at weddings and funerals which comes in real handy when you come face to face with them again. Lord knows how many school projects they’ve helped us with (family trees, oral history, a remarkable person in our family… you know the ones). They’re sure to have many old photos for you to look back at, and maybe even laugh at how ridiculous your parents looked as teenagers. Plus, if they themselves are immigrants, make sure you learn their inspiring (and maybe even difficult) story of leaving one country for another.
They were part of many world events
The things we learned about in a textbook, many of our grandparents actually experienced. Yes, most millennials will be able to tell you where they were when the first plane hit the Twin Towers on September 11. But, our grandparents may remember where they were when President Kennedy was assassinated. They may be able to remember the outbreak and aftermath of the second World War, the Vietnam War and for some, The Great Depression. They have known hardship and loss and it is has made them grateful for the things they have and the things they value most.
They’re great cooks
Okay, this doesn’t apply to all, but perhaps you are one of the lucky ones whose grandparents cook and cook well! Many families have secret family recipes that are passed down from generation to generation. Now it can be your turn to get your hands on it — just ask grandma. Cooking or baking these recipes together is such a fantastic way for you to not only keep the traditions of your family, but to strengthen your relationship as well. We all know that food makes every holiday special and we how we look forward to the traditions that make our stomachs and hearts feel full. Through their cooking, our grandparents have prepared you for the real world — where you have to cook for yourself and enjoy the little (and delicious) things in life.
They’re great examples of patience
As our grandparents are now older, they can teach us a thing or two about slowing down and enjoying life. They have a lot more free time to do leisurely activities — AKA all activities that require much patience! In our fast-paced millennial mindset, it is easy to forget to slow down and enjoy ourselves. Our grandparents have seen what can wait until tomorrow and are more than happy to set aside time to spend with their families, putting their hobbies on hold for some quality time.
At the risk of sounding morose, here is a heartbreaking reality: you never know how much time you have left with anyone. We would do well to cherish the moments of speaking loudly, explaining the internet and forcing them to take selfies with us… even those quiet times where we simply sit in each other’s company. It is the quality of our interactions that matters,they will become memories when we can no longer be together.
Here’s to the grandparents who still have that zest for life, a passion for family and a sense of humor about the aging process — may we all be lucky enough to get there someday!