With 22 grandchildren, birthday parties occur very frequently for our family. I used to buy a gift and a card for each birthday boy or girl and give it to them at their party, however, I now prefer to create a memory for them instead.
I schedule a birthday date for each grandchild 5 years old and older, rather than giving them a gift at their party. I choose a convenient date with their parents and then pick up my date and take them out for breakfast or lunch and then go off for a birthday adventure of shopping for the perfect gift and spending time with them.
Depending on the age of the grandchild, sometimes I have taken them to my home, and we would either bake something, hang out or sometimes work on a project. One date with my 14 year old granddaughter consisted of us shopping for cake decorating supplies and then decorating a “get well soon” cake for her cousin who had broken her arm. She was so excited to learn a new skill and has used it to decorate cakes for her family celebrations. The children really don’t care what we do, they just want to be with me and I really want to be with them.
Sometimes we try to coordinate it so that my husband can join us. On a recent date with my 9-year old grandson, I wanted to buy him a toolbox and a few tools. I knew that my husband would know more about the type of toolbox to buy since he comes from a family of carpenters and builders, so he was able to meet us at the store and help us pick out the perfect toolbox for him. Of course, we took pictures and he was so proud to show his parents and siblings what he was given for his birthday date.
I always ask the parents what they feel the child could use as far as clothing, toys or books and then I pick up the birthday boy or girl and have them shop for the gift with me. I do this with one grandchild at a time even though I have three grandsons born within two weeks of each other. This gives me a special bonding opportunity with each of my grandchildren and a fond memory for them.
On a recent date with one of my granddaughters, we shopped for a gift but were not able to find anything that she really wanted. She suggested that we drive to the dollar store and pick up some school supplies that she wanted to have. That date was a reminder that it’s not always the gift that is important to the child, but the personal one-on-one time to talk, ask questions as well as answer questions that they may have for me.
I recently overheard two of my grandchildren talking about how much they look forward to their birthday date. When I asked them if they enjoyed our dates, they both gave me a big smile and nodded their heads.
Children are one of God’s most beautiful blessings, but I feel that grandchildren are the extra bonus for raising my own children.
“If I knew how much fun I would have with my grandkids, I would have had them first.”