What kind of grandparent are you during the holidays? The way I view it, there are seven different types of grandparents. None are right or wrong, just different. We all view the holidays through our own experiences, and because of our past, we create what we want for our grandchildren. How many grandkids you have also plays a role, especially when money is tight. Here is the way I view the seven different types of grandparents.
1. The Bountiful Grandparent
The stereotypical grandparents show up at the door with loads of presents wrapped beautifully. There are toys and clothes, stuffed animals, and games. There may even be presents too big to wrap, like bicycles or a trampoline. Of course, kids love to see the generous grandparents on Christmas! The parents may view it differently.
2. The Three Gift Grandparent
This is my style and approach to holiday gift-giving. I don’t like to shop, and I am trying to not overdo the gifts. I know my daughter and son-in-law have limited room for more toys. Plus, I know Callister, my grandson, has lots of people giving him gifts.
I focus on three gifts: one for the body, one for the mind, and one for the soul. Examples might be a balance bike for the body, books for the mind, and a toy truck for the soul. OK, that is exactly my list for my two-year-old grandson this year, so if you see him, please don’t tell!
3. The Check is in the Mail Grandparent
This is the grandparent who either gives money to the kids or contributes to the child’s college fund. This is a gift younger kids won’t understand, but years from now, they will be thanking their grandparents. For teenagers, cash might be the absolute, most perfect gift. If cash seems a little crass, gift certificates might fit the bill better.
4. The Gift of Experiences Grandparent
This can be a wonderful gift, combining experiences and the valuable gift of time. Depending on the age of the kids and the size of the grandparents’ wallet, this could range from an afternoon making cookies, going to the movies, or at the extreme end of the spectrum – a trip to Disney!
5. The Eccentric Gifts Grandparent
This was my mom! We never quite knew what to expect when we got a package from my mom, but that was part of the fun. She didn’t spend much money, but she always had a theme, such as crazy hats, games, or puzzles.
Honestly, they weren’t things we actually wanted, but once we viewed it through her eccentric sense of humor, we started looking forward to her fun presents.
6. The Out of Touch Grandparents
This one is a little harder to understand, but it’s good practice for your kids’ manners.
The Christmas my daughter was 13, she received a plastic Sesame Street clock from the grandparents she rarely saw. It was very sweet of them to send her something, and she saw it for what it was, an attempt to connect. She sat down at her desk, smiled, and wrote a nice thank you letter.
7. The Practical Grandparent
Underwear, socks, and maybe some new clothes are what’s in the presents from the practical grandparents. When I was a kid, Santa often brought these items, and I was happy to get them. When a family is getting by on a strict budget, the practical gifts are very welcomed. If not, this may be another one of the situations where your child has to learn to smile and say thank you. Or maybe your child really will be happy with the practical items. One Christmas, my three-year-old daughter only had one item on her Christmas list, her own box of Kleenex. I suspect she actually would have been completely satisfied with the gift of a box of Kleenex if I hadn’t ruined it with my own idea of overdoing gifts.
Whatever your style of Christmas gift-giving is, make sure you clear your ideas with the parents of your grandchildren. If nothing else, I run my ideas by the parents to ensure we don’t duplicate gifts. More important than gifts is sharing the joy of the season with your grandchildren. Seeing the wonder of the season through their eyes is the best gift they can give us! ■