from A Grandpa's Notebook, Meyer Moldeven

If you can think a story, and if you can write a letter or express your thoughts orally or visually, then you can combine them into a message to a grandchild. The more often you do it, the easier it becomes. If the mechanics of writing or drawing is the problem, then audiotape. The point is to interact and communicate with a grandchild so that the youngster knows of your caring, and that caring is normal. Grandchild will readily grasp that Grandma or Grandpa wants to share, and that sharing is fine.

The type of communication most desired by my grandchildren until their fifth or sixth years, and under the circumstances of the distance between us, was the letter-story. The written stories evolved out of our infrequent family get-togethers. Occasionally, an idea for a story called for follow-up negotiations over the telephone to clarify plots, scenes, and characters. My grandchildren liked the stories, and both they and I enjoyed the discussions that preceded the writing. The give-and-take stimulated our imaginations and creativity, and often provided me with opportunities to pass along family history.

Today's youngsters know more about the world than children of previous generations, one of the many benefits of our expanding telecommunication capabilities and greater education and travel opportunities. Youngsters get their view of the world from what they see, hear, and learn from and about their families.

Letter stories, anecdotes and lore give grandchildren a better view of their grandparents, and about what older adults believe. The process, if positive oriented, contributes toward the grandchild's maturity, and offers them encouragement, values, models, and incentives.

There are tens of thousands of homes across the land where treasured possessions, tangible and otherwise, were created or acquired by the occupants or their forebears. You have them in your home as I do in mine. In time, those possessions: properties and artifacts, along with their histories, will move along to your children and grandchildren. In every culture, 'grandpa and grandma stories', along with 'mom and dad stories,' are part of that inheritance.

When youngsters know that Grandpa or Grandma wrote a story expressly for them, that more than qualifies the story for the special collection of treasures to be shared with close friends, presented at school as a show-and-tell, and eventually absorbed into the treasured memorabilia of childhood.

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