OK you win some and you lose some. I get that. But it is so much harder to lose when you have been absolutely convinced that THIS time, it would be a WINNER for SURE!!
I believe that my duties as a grandmother are specifically limited. I do NOT get to “parent” my two amazing grandsons. Julius, who is 13 and Luca, 10 (for another week) depend on me to be that other adult in their lives that has the luxury of coming closer to unconditional love than either of their parents do. Even though they live with their father in my home, I do not have to crack the “do your homework” or “clean your room” whips. That’s their Dad’s job.
My self-imposed duties are clear to me though. I get to love them. I get to watch out for their safety. And my favorite, I get to teach them stuff, especially about our family’s history and traditions…
At Christmas time, it is not part of my job to be the one to give the “big” present each year. Again, that’s my son’s place and I never want to compete or even accidentally outshine him with his boys.
So I go for obscure, non-traditional gifts (no video games) and whenever possible, non-material. Gifts from Gramma are unexpected (sometimes unwanted) and always a bit weird. That’s OK with me. And I know some will land and some will fail! But most will be remembered.
3 years ago, I made each a personal (Shutterfly) photo book of their lives so far. I think it got about a C+/B- grade from the boys.
2 years ago, I made them personalized “treasure boxes”. (They’ve always liked that concept). These boxes contained charms and totems and stickers that represented events in their lives. Each box also had a tiny tablet and mini pencil so they could guess, and then write down, what each token in and on their box signified. There was a prize for whoever guessed the most symbols. (Hey, do I know how to harness sibling rivalry or what??)
Last year, I gave them (all of us really) a family outing to a very cool local place. Maybe you have something like this in your area. It’s called the Boarding House. I have to admit I have some pretty strong judgments about how inundated our children are these days with all things electronic and technical…especially the whole video gaming addiction…so when I discovered the Boarding House, I was thrilled. It is a store/restaurant that sells almost every “board game” ever invented…not a single electronic game in the place! You can even go in and pick some games to try out at your table while enjoying a damn good meal. (Think the highest class “tavern food” EVER!)
This gift was NOT a hit because when they opened it, they had no idea what it was. They could not even grasp the concept of a game store without their coveted new video games for sale. (not an addiction, my ass!) It took 10 months for them to finally be willing to use their hefty Gramma gift certificate for dinner and games at the Boarding House. I’d say, eventually, this gift earned approximately a B-…but it was like pulling teeth.
This year, I thought I might finally earn an “A”. Oh well, best laid plans and all.
My son likes to expose the boys to a variety of different and special experiences in their lives. Wild and different restaurants. And last year, he bought them 3 piece suits and took them to the SYMPHONY!
Remember I said it was my self-imposed duty to teach them about Family Traditions? So, I combined my son’s determination to expose them to new things, and my childhood (and then Michael’s) tradition of weird food in our Christmas stockings, to provide a Christmas morning experience like no other. I knew it would be a HIT!! The boys love all the survival-type tv shows, especially when eating gross stuff is involved. So I did a lot of googling, shopped around, prepared a breakfast table, with a specific food challenge for each! (No crickets or ants involved…we are a Bug Household after all!) see
Here’s what they arrived to find for breakfast.
The deal was, they had to read the research I printed about their given fruit, take at least one bite and then go back to the printed material to find a clue for a treasure hunt to their real present. A gift card to their favorite place to shop hidden around the house.
Great idea, eh? Expose them to something new. Teach them something old. I was so sure….
I think I earned maybe a D- !!
Oh well. The hidden $50 Amazon cards went some distance to save the day…