I was blessed to grow up, as many do, with grandparents I loved and who loved me right back. Although I never lived in the same state as my grandparents, who all lived in UT, we would visit at least once a year during the summer, along with weekly phone calls, and our grandparents would often come out and visit us for special events or to join us on family vacation. While it’s the memories we made spending time with my grandparents that I cherish most, some of the physical gifts they’ve given me are equally precious, serving to remind me of the memories we created.
The Mangle: Antique/Heirloom
For as long as I can remember, my grandparents had this beautiful wrought iron and wood antique mangle (a.k.a. old fashioned rolling iron) in their basement. My earliest memories of it are being warned not to run around it lest I crack my head open, and having a kindly friend roll my fingers through the rollers resulting in tears aplenty–not necessarily great memories–but to me, it mostly just reminds me of summers playing in my grandparents basement, where the mangle and this funny stationary bike powering a gigantic fan were always present in the background. When my grandparents offered to let me have the mangle after I got married, I promptly engaged the help of my uncles to load it into the back of our car and toted it off to our first apartment. My grandma brought it back with her from Germany after their stint in the military there, which has special meaning both because her dad (my great-grandpa) emigrated from Germany when he was 19, and because my family also spent a stint living in Germany during my teenage years.
Pearl Earrings : Everyday Wearable
The year I graduated from high school, my grandma gave a pair of pearl earrings that I’ve worn at least once on a weekly basis since then. Pearls are just classy and in my opinion, they go with pretty much everything. My roommates in college would often tease me for pairing pearl earrings and a pearl necklace with sweatpants and Sunday best alike, but I just loved those earrings! In fact, I’m wearing them right now, and haven’t taken them off in the last 2 weeks. Whenever I look at my earrings, I remember who gave them to me.
Killer Red Heels : Statement Wearable
My grandma is a champion shopper. She looks at absolutely everything, which my mom and I rarely have the patience for on our own, which means that if there’s something cute, she’ll find it. One of our most frequented stores together has always been the shoe department at Nordstrom Rack, and on one of our shopping expeditions, she found these absolutely adorable red Mary-Jane wedges, that she bought me with my birthday money. Whenever I wear them, I always get TONS of compliments on them, and each time my response is, “Thank you! My grandma actually picked them out for me!” It’s a reminder of all of my shopping memories with my grandma that I cherish.
Books : Lasting Through the Years
Now you might have noticed, that up to this point, everything that I’ve listed was gifted to me during my adult life. While I’m sure my grandparents were responsible for toys and clothes galore as I grew up, the only thing that I still have is the books. The picture books and early chapter books that have an inscription in the front of each cover with my name, who the book was from, and the occasion and date. I recently had my mom send me my stash of books from my childhood in preparation for the birth of our first child, and it was so special to flip through the books I remember from my childhood, to be reminded of the occasions on which they were given to me, and to see the investment that my grandparents and family friends had in me from the very beginning.
Nice books are one of the few things you can give to children that have the potential to really last through the years to become precious memories and mementoes. Looking at my own stash of books, it’s the hardcover books that have held up best, but it’s totally worth a roll of tape to keep the paperbacks together in the places that they need it as well to be able to continue to read them to our children.
Having the opportunity to have grandparents and grandchildren make memories is increasingly important as those cross-generation relationships give us the stability and a sense of self and our past that gives us strength as we tackle the bigger problems of the universe, but gifting mementoes that can serve as reminders of those memories is equally important. Grandparents, as you consider those gifts that will be most cherished throughout the decades, books should rise to the top of your list for all ages. Not sure which to get your grandkids? Bookroo would love to help you out by sending individually wrapped, carefully curated books every month to remind your grandkids how much you care!