ONLINE CHURCH BULLETIN
HOW TO BE YOUR GRANDPARENT'S FAVORITE,
One could sum up a grandchild's responsibilities in three words: respect (do), neglect (don't), and collect (do). (For discussion of "respect" and the first part of "neglect" see last week's article.)
Don't neglect your grandparents. Resolve now to spend some time with your grandparents within a week. Do unto them as you would have them do unto you if the tables were turned (cf Mt. 7:12). Here are ten practical ideas:
(1) Go to their house after the Sunday morning service and stay until the evening service. 'those five or six hours may be a memory you long cherish.
(2) Pick a night to stay over with them. Plan it far enough ahead so that it does not interrupt their schedule.
(3) Remember to take them a little present. Someone remarked, "A man can let his wife know he loves her by giving her a dozen longstemmed roses; his small grandson can do the same with a fistful of dandelions." It doesn't have to cost anything: draw them a picture for the refrigerator, take some photos for them to frame (if you can afford it get the frame, too), make them something in Bible class (your teacher will have some ideas).
(4) Invite them to your house for a meal-cook it for them (with your mom's help). They'll brag on you for two weeks!
(5) If they don't get out much anymore, take them out for a meal at their favorite restaurant. Volunteer to stop by one of their friend's house and let them visit for a while on the way back.
(6) If they live too far to visit, send a card with a letter tucked inside. Tell them about the "little things" that are happening in your life. Send them a copy of your Bible class handwork, school grades, music/athletic competition results, and other awards (like spelling bees, science projects). (They need something to brag about to other grandparents!) They won't be bored ... they'll read your letters several times and then put them in a keepsake box.
(7) Send them a card thanking them for the last gift they gave you. Mention how much you have enjoyed your Christmas present or what you bought with the money they slipped to you the last time you were together. (If you really want to impress them, fist the presents they gave you the last two or three years.) Don't be like the nine who forgot to say thanks (Lk. 17:17).
(8) Call. Whether they live across town or across the country, the sound of your voice will warm their heart. Talk an extra long time, you will not regret the long distance bill when they are gone and you cannot call them again.
(9) If they have a computer, send them an e-greeting card. Scan in pictures (or take digital ones) to send them every week or so.
(10) When you go on a trip, buy them a little memorable gift and send postcards. If they have a collection (and what grandmother doesn't?), add something interesting to it when you can.
Third, collect your grandparents' wisdom. The Bible advises: "Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end" (Prov. 19:20). Who better to ask counsel of than grandparents? Job said, "With the ancient is wisdom and in length of days understanding. With him is wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding" (12:12, 13). You may feel comfortable talking to them about certain things-like your relationship with your parents or a boyfriend/girlfiend-that you might not be able to bring up to your parents, your Bible teacher, or preacher right then. A grandparent can keep a secret.
Don't make Rehoboam's mistake of rejecting the wisdom of the old in favor of young friends (I Kgs. 12:8). Some teens think they know more than their parents and grandparents. Believe it or not, 96% of those over 65 are not senile!' (Of course, there was one man who quipped: "My deafness I endure / To dentures I'm resigned / Bifocals I can manage / But how I miss my mind!") Old age has been where youth has yet to travel. By the magic carpet of memory, they can help us bypass some of life's rough places. On the hilltop of "threescore and ten," they see God's hand in the dark valleys of youth. In youth we wonder; in age, we know. Marie Ebner-Eschenbach put it this way: "In youth we learn; in age we understand."
Collect from them pearls of marital wisdom. "Hear, 0 my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many" (Prov. 4: 10). How did they keep their marriage together (assum ing they did), for twenty-five or fifty years (cf. Mt. 19:6-9). Ask them. Take notes or record your interview on cassette. Learn how they overcome problems, worked through serious disagreements, and what they enjoyed doing together.
Collect from them information about rearing children-. it may not be as long as you think before you are going to wish that you knew about how to handle a two-year-old (and later, a fourteen-year-old). How did they keep the bills paid and their children from being arrested'? How did they work religion into their daily routines? Are there some things they would do differently now that they have harvested all the seeds they planted?
Collect from them stories of how they have seen God providence work over their lifetimes (Rm. 8:28; Phile. 15). Through the lens of a thousand yesterdays, grandparents see clearer God's providence. It was David, an old man, who said, "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread" (Psa. 37:25).
Collect from them wisdom for living a good life (I Pet. 3.-10-12). This is best done through observation. Solomon said, "My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways" (Prov. 23:26). Is your grandfather a patient man'? Watch bow he reacts to crises and imitate him (cf. I Cor. 11: 1). Is your grandmother a sweet and thoughtful person? Watch how she behaves around others and imitate her. Is your grandfather deliberate in making decisions? Learn from him to "look before you leap"-or better, "think before you sign." Is your grandmother a joyful person? Learn from her to "think on good things" (Phil. 4:8) and to avoid gossipers and a covetous spirit.
Want to be your grandparents' favorite grandchild? Try this recipe. It's guaranteed to work (or your money back).
1. Dr. James Birren, University of Southern California
2. Adapted from Harold G. Taylor 1830- 1916
Years from now you will cry as you share the sound of their voice with your children and grandchildren.