Yesterday a friend and I made a pact. When I told my husband that, I could hear his eyes roll even though they were glued on the road ahead of him as we drove along. “But it’s a good pact!” I said, hoping to interrupt his skepticism. And it was a good pact. I hope that we both remember to keep it, despite the many other things that push to crowd it out of our memories. So perhaps it’s good that I’m getting it down in writing. You, on the other side of this screen, can help my friend and I stay accountable to this pact.
Raisin toast and tea. That was the smell I awoke to each morning at my grandparents’ house. We called them Nana and Grampa, to differentiate them from Granny and Grampa with the One Horse (or Grampa Jack, as we refer to him now). They were our closest grandparents and we saw them at Christmas and Thanksgiving, on Family Snow Days, and on any other day that we made the hour-long trip into “the city” to see them, or when they made the trip to see us. They would watch us when our parents had a night off. Mom and Dad would stay in a hotel and we would get to wake up early and go yard sale-ing with Nana and Grampa. We always came home with a car full of goodies.
And then there were “girls only” outings, when Nana would take my cousins and I out shopping at the Woolworth’s and buy us clothes and lunch. And I remember going to her salon, a little shop in a plaza in town. Rows of women with their curler-ed hair under huge driers would look up from their magazines and say “Hello Marie! How are you? And who’s this with you?”.
And we would go to their church which seemed so huge to us, with stained glass windows and a whole gymnasium! There were so many people, with lots of different colours. Women wore feathered hats and pumps, and they always coordinated; men wore suits and black, shiny shoes and would pull the car up to the door after the service for their wives and children. And they sang hymns like they meant it. The Sunday School teachers always gave us a prize from the Visitor box, and people we were supposed to recognize would squeeze our cheeks and say “My, how you’ve grown! Why I remember when you were THIS small!” and they’d hold their hands out to show it.
And after church we’d play under the eaves at their house, in “the tunnel” as we called it — a crawlspace built into the top floor, perfect for children to have adventures in. We could sneak out through the sport jackets and dresses hanging in the hall closet, Narnia-style, and scare the others.
So when my friend suggested this pact, I readily agreed. Simply because of the raisin toast and tea. You see, our pact was this: we agreed to commit to be an active presence in our grandchildren’s lives. In all of their lives, as equally as possible. Grandchildren are a long way off at this point (we hope and pray), but being intentional about it now will make it much easier later on.
Sure, geography and life stages could make things difficult. But with Skype and email and Facebook, I don’t think we can use those things as excuses.
I want my grandchildren to have the same kind of relationship I did with my grandparents. I want them to know they’re loved and liked, enjoyed and treasured.
And I’ll be sure to always make them raisin toast and tea.
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