President Jimmy Carter made Grandparents Day official 40 years ago. The day falls the first Sunday after Labor Day. The occasion reinforces the significance of elders. Our boys’ grandparents bless our family with love and traditions. We recently returned from our annual vacation in Cape Cod with our parents.
Our parents drive 1,000 miles in their blue SUV from Chicago transporting diapers for their one-year-old granddaughter, books for family members of every age, water toys, water shoes my sister bought, and baseball gear for their three grandsons. My Mom packed other necessities like binoculars, sunscreen, medicine, beach towels, and Waterford jerseys from my brother-in-law's hometown.
We treasure the opportunity to share these beach adventures with our three generations of family. You can imagine the exhausting meltdowns, awkward blunders, and travel mishaps as we barely made it through security at O'Hare Airport. And, that's an understatement...
My sister and I arrived exhausted on our first day at the hot cabin with four crabby little ones. We spotted our parents with their caps of white hair under protective sun hats. As they walked toward us from the beach, Grandma screamed with delight when she saw her grand kids. She gestured toward the sea gulls as my sister and I collapsed in lawn chairs.
Grandma suggested if the boys behaved, they could feast on their favorite purple haze ice cream after dinner. As the boys started to argue how many blocks to the ice cream parlor, Grandma distracted them with a walk.
Our five-year-old spotted a baby fox near the beach with Grandma. The short auburn colored pup almost blended in with the sand. Its pointy ears darted across the dry sea grass. The boys ran off their final burst of energy that night with melted ice cream mustaches.
Our days started before the sun rose. My sister slathered all four kids with sun screen before we ran outside in our bathing suits. Each day around lunchtime, we took refuge from the 100% humidity in the rustic cabin. Grandma insisted everyone first rinse the sand off in the outside shower.
Grandma baited Grandpa to swim in the bay each late afternoon. They befriended another family who left their boogie boards for our boys. Ferocious storms broke the heat toward the end of the week.
Our last day, we journeyed toward the beach. Grandma smiled while the boys fell as the waves crashed upon them. She peacefully held her granddaughter while my husband buried the jubilant boys up to their necks in sand.
As the week ended, our family vacation signified the end of summer. Now that we returned home, our boys attend my parents’ parish school.
Today, our family church routine and the boys' school builds on values from their grandparents. Although their Dad’s parents are in heaven, they must also enjoy it when their grandson sings in the school choir.
What does Grandparents Day mean to your family? Hope you build on some lessons learned from your parents. As our boys nudged me to finish their baby books this last weekend, they examined the book their Grandma started for me almost 40 years ago when she wore her long black shiny hair in pig tails.