As an interfaith couple, my husband and I have spent years figuring out how to honor each other’s religious traditions without losing track of our own. Danny, freshly five, is apparently adopting an ecumenical approach.
Last week, he declared that he wanted to celebrate all holidays – Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, all of them. In fact, he doesn’t feel limited to religious holidays alone. Not at all.
His sole criterion? If a holiday appears on the calendar he got free in the mail from Highlights, he’s observing it.
This week proved a busy one for him, what with Labor Day and the stickers he’d applied for his birthday and “FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!” And this weekend brings another holiday: National Grandparents Day.
Founded by Marian McQuade, a West Virginia mother of 15 and grandmother of 40, Grandparents Day became a national holiday in 1978. Its purpose is to honor grandparents and to celebrate the guidance our elders can offer. (And here I, always the cynic, thought its purpose was to boost Hallmark’s annual revenue…)
As Danny gathered us at the table last weekend to make cards for his grandparents, distributing crayons and stickers to his siblings and getting to work on his own masterpiece, I thought about how lucky my kids are to have four healthy, active grandparents who love and support them and are eager to play an active role in their lives.
Although none of my own grandparents is still alive, I keep their memories close to my heart: my grandma who loved giraffes and peanut butter pie and slept on a silk pillowcase so that her set hair wouldn’t get mussed in the night. My grandpa who could fix anything and saved us scratch paper from his office so we could color on it when we visited. My grandma who was very tall and played the piano, used squeezable butter and lived in a high rise apartment building. My grandpa who practiced free throw shooting every day and took me to Germany to see the town where his family came from.
And now my kids have their own grandparents to help them create new memories and new connections: a grandma who plays “Ladies Ride” and reads Are You My Mother? A grandpa who plays “Kid Grabber” and serenades them on the guitar with songs he’s written for them. An Oma who introduces them to the sites and sounds of New York City. A papa who takes them fishing.
It seems to me that the raising of kids is one of the places where the expression, “Too many cooks spoils the broth” doesn’t hold true. How can a child ever have too many people to love and shepherd them and to really know them?
So my thanks to Danny and to Marian McQuade (and my apologies to Hallmark) for reminding me to stop and be grateful for my kids’ grandparents and all the grown-ups who help us raise our kids.