Those of us fortunate enough to grow up with grandparents understand how important they were (and are) in our lives. I grew up knowing my mother's parents and maternal great-grandmother; my paternal grandparents had died when I was quite young, although I do remember some holiday celebrations
My great-grandmother took care of my mother when she was little, so her parents (my grandparents) could work without worry. Today, this model is still common in many cultures around the world. Both parents are often working and grandmothers (and grandfathers) are helping to raise their grandchildren.
I remember my grandmother’s visits very well, and saw my great-grandmother, quite elderly by that time, during the summer vacations. Grandma would arrive for visits laden with boxes and jars of wonderful delicacies that our mother didn’t have time to prepare. When we were little, she kept us busy and happy with painting, making pasta necklaces and pasta artwork, trying to teach us how to sew dresses for our dolls. Her legendary attempts to teach me to crochet, unfortunately, fell on hands that just didn't catch on.
A cousin is a relative with whom you share common ancestors. First cousins share grandparents, but all cousins share a family history bond that goes far beyond that.
If you have a really close cousin, you know that the relationship can be very special.
Storytelling is a great way to create a stronger family bond, share family moments and have our children and grandchildren feel part of a grander history. Children love listening to stories and looking at old photographs. Seeing a family tree filled with images of people they may or may not know will peak their curiousity to ask many questions and learn about their heritage.
Have you thought about the skills your grandparents had, but that are no longer common today? Here are the top five skills:
1. The ability to write long, handwritten letters:
Do you still write letters by hand and send them by mail? Nowadays, most of us write emails and text messages, but not long, handwritten letters.
In the past, it was often common for several generations of a family to live together in one house.
For some it was a financial decision, while for others it was to enjoy the pleasure of having a large family together under one roof.
Today there are strong indications that multigenerational living is on the rise. According to a 2009 Pew Research Center study, 51.4 million Americans lived in a house with at least one other generation under the same roof.
A decline in employment and postponement in marriage has forced more adults to move back into their parent’s homes post-college. Known as “boomerangs,” 61 per cent of Americans aged 25 to 34 know of friends or family who have moved back with parents or relatives.
In times gone by, were families so much bigger than today?
My grandmother was one of eight and my grandfather one of seven. Many of my ancestors also came from large families. I used to wonder whether people tended to have bigger families.
According to UK statistics, the 1900 birth rate was 3.5 children per family; by the end of the century (1997), the rate fell to 1.7 children.
Why do you think people had larger families back then?
What about your family? How many siblings did your grandparents have?
Let us know in the poll below.
Today, September 9, is Grandparents Day in the US.
Although celebrated in various countries on different days, it is always commemorated in the US on the first Sunday after Labor Day.
Grandparents Day was established in 1978, following Marian McQuade's vision that youth should understand the importance of the contributions to society made by senior citizens.
After much lobbying by Marian, President Jimmy Carter signed the day into law on August 3, 1978, proclaiming that it should be used "...to honor grandparents, to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children's children, and to help children become aware of strength, information, and guidance older people can offer."
Those of us fortunate enough to have grandparents should take the opportunity to make them feel special and loved today. It's a perfect opportunity to ask about their families, their own grandparents and their experiences growing up. It's a great way to learn more about your own family history.
Those of us who are grandparents should explain to our grandchildren about the family's origins, and share stories and information about previous generations.
Two weeks ago we introduced Elisabeth, our French community manager. Here she shares a post about grandparents.
The earliest memories I have of my grandparents revolve around fun and candy! They picked me up from school, took me on long weekends and invited me to stay with them during the summer. My grandmother taught me to ride a bike and my grandfather told stories so that we’d fall asleep.