Grandparents Day

Grandparents Day is September 10th! Here are some ideas of how to celebrate and make it a “storyful” day. (Think of the acronym T.E.L.L.) 

  1. Take time to be together. This may look like reading a picture book together or it may look like talking over cups of coffee or chatting over the phone. A truth is time is one gift none of us can ever get back or get more of and so when we share it with someone, we are, in a sense, sharing one of our most valuable treasures.
  2. Enjoy something yummy together. What’s your favorite treat? Chocolate chip cookies? Ice cream? Whatever it is, enjoy it together. The smells and tastes of our favorite foods are often connected to sweet memories that make for great stories. 
  3. Look back at the past together. Grandparents are a living connection to history, a real gift to grandchildren. Why not look back over family photo albums, visit a local historical site, or watch a history-focused show together? However you do it, ask questions, share stories and listen. Sometimes grandparents are shy of talking about the past. We obviously don’t need to know or share everything and can let some topics stay silent. But an encouragement for grandparents is that their stories may be just what a grandchild needs to be inspired and connected. Many of us these days need new connections, not only to people but also to hope. And stories from previous generations about overcoming struggles, seeing how life’s pieces came together and learning lessons may be the best way to give those connections. 
  4. Laugh together. It’s been said that “A cheerful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22, NIV), so in your “storyful” day silly stories and jokes are welcome! 

May you have a blessed and “storyful” day!

P.S. What if you don’t have grandparents with whom to celebrate? Well, like Andrew in My Own Grandpa by Leone Castell Anderson you may find an older person who needs a “grandchild”, too.

For a few recommended children’s books about life with the elderly, see this post

Photo credit: Adobe Stock. 

The Book My Grandma Gave Me

Everybody else had gone to town, but she was happy she had stayed home. She glanced around the farmhouse. The floor was swept, the breakfast dishes done, the house tidied. Now her own fun could begin! 

She went to the one bookshelf in the house. Built into the writing desk, this shelf held all the books her family owned. Of course, it wasn’t hard to find the one book she wanted – the one with the light grey cover. 

After wiping her hands on her skirt to make sure they were clean, she slid the book from the shelf, and, carrying it in two hands, went outside. 

A smokey-grey farm cat scuttled in front of her as she stepped out the door. Many days she would have followed the cat, but not this time.

She settled in the sun-warmed grass near a scraggly tree. Here enough of a breeze blew to keep her comfortable even in the summer weather.

She opened the book. She knew just where she wanted to start reading…

This is how I imagine my grandmother as a girl, enjoying the book she passed down to me. What book was that? The Best Loved Poems of the American People.

There’s something special about poetry. As Betty Stam put it,

“Don’t you love the common words

     In usage all the time:

Words that paint a master-piece,

     Words that beat a rhyme,

Words that sing a melody,

     Words that leap and run,

Words that sway a multitude,

     Or stir the heart of one?…”[1]

Some of the best loved poems of not only the American people but of people the world over are poems that tell a story. Here are a few that you might enjoy whether you are 9 years old or 99.

  • The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere by Longfellow
  • The Children’s Hour by Longfellow
  • Rain in Summer by Longfellow
  • The Touch of the Master’s Hand by Myra Brooks Welch
  • The Wedding Gift by Minna Irving
  • The First Snowfall by James Russell Lowell
  • Snow-Bound by Whittier

Yes, I do love “Words that paint a master-piece/Words that beat a rhyme”. and, Grandma, I’m glad you do, too. Thank you for sharing not only your book of poems with me but also the book-worth of stories from your life. Happy Birthday with love!

Made New

Ever wonder where your favorite story was written? Tolkien used his stately desk, Laura Ingalls Wilder enjoyed her farmhouse nook and Robin Jones Gunn loves her Hawaiian nest. And me? Well, I wouldn’t claim to stand amongst writers like them, but I can still show you the corner of the world where I often pen letters, jot journal entries or scribble story plots.

First I have to share its story. A writing cabinet with three shelves, a cupboard, a mirror and a fold-down desk stood in my (living) Grandma’s childhood home and later served one of her sisters. It was well used and loved like many pieces that saw the Great Depression. This past fall, it was given to me. The glass door was long gone, but the mirror was still there. I especially loved the cubbies above the desk! After spending a few days hearing tales about the world this cabinet watched, I knew I wanted to do something special with it. However, before anything else, it needed some work.

My family pitched in to refresh this heirloom piece. Cleaning, shellacking, sanding, painting, repairing…It took a fair amount of TLC. Was all the work worth it? See for yourself!

Ready for a makeover

Ready for a makeover



A close-up of the cubbies

A close-up of the cubbies

Pretty darling, isn’t it? The brown paint represents the hard work of past generations who put down roots. The green represents growth and new life. I like to think this cabinet got a fresh start. In some ways, it’s like it’s a whole new creation.

It makes me think of what God does for His children. He makes us new. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV). It’s like He gets out His brushes, paints, sandpaper and cleaning cloths and gives a cobwebby, musty, chipped, scratched heart a makeover. Sure, there will still be some rough edges or the paint will need a touch up, but where it counts the Master Carpenter gives His workmanship a fresh start.

That’s a theme that rambles through my head when I come to my little writing desk.

“Finish, then, thy new creation;                                                                                                                                  Pure and spotless let us be.                                                                                                                                            Let us see thy great salvation                                                                                                                              Perfectly restored in thee;                                                                                                                                    Changed from glory into glory,                                                                                                                                      Till in heav’n we take our place,                                                                                                                                      Till we cast our crowns before thee,                                                                                                                         Lost in wonder, love and praise.”

~”Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” by Charles Welsey (Trinity Hymnal, #460)


My Grandma who went to heaven earlier this year told me that there was a cabinet nearly identical to this one in her childhood home as well. Her minister father kept his sermons organized on the shelves. You can imagine the “made new” cabinet is even dearer to me now.

A Suggested Spring Outing: Treasure Hunting

For a couple of seasons, I had the pleasure of working at a living history museum. Most of the time, I could be found in the one-room schoolhouse, looking like I had sprung off the pages of Anne of Green Gables. Along with the joy of meeting new little ones each day, my favorite part was listening when the “old folks” started talking.

“My school was pretty much like this, except all of our desks faced this way.”

“When I was a one-room school teacher back in the ‘30s, my students each brought a potato for lunch, and we baked the potatoes in the stove during morning lessons.”

A particular visitor even testified that the tricks of schoolhouse lore, like dipping a girl’s braid in an inkwell or tying her apron strings to her seat, really did take place.

As much as I tried to convey my delight, I’m not sure these dear story-givers ever truly grasped how much I relished the glimpses they gave me into these bygone days. They were like pots of gold on my treasure hunt to uncover true stories to share with the 21st-century schoolchildren who visited my school. To the history-bearers, their schoolhouse days may have seemed just ordinary life, but to me and the boys and girls who came running as my bell rang, they were as beyond ordinary as fairy tales! You see, most of today’s children will never do farm chores before they head to school, much less ski to school – Little boys often burst out in exclamations of envy at that point! – or listen in on the lessons of their brothers and sisters or go ice skating with them at recess. And today’s generation of seniors are pretty much the last ones who can share these stories firsthand.

With that in mind, as often as I could (and when I remembered), I would encourage my students that their grandparents or another older person in their lives may, in fact, have attended a one-room school not so different from the one in which they were sitting. My hope was for the children to go on their own treasure hunts.

This is one of the beauties of living history museums: they make history tangible. Just like it’s one thing to read about Anne Shirley and quite another to wear ridiculously puffed sleeves yourself, so it’s one thing to read about a one-room school and quite another to sit at a desk where someone sat a hundred years ago and take a slate pencil in your hand to work arithmetic problems given by a teacher. And if you have someone with you who can tell you firsthand how it really was, that’s even better!

That’s why this spring, as you plan your outings or field trips, I encourage you to visit your local (or distant) living history museums and to take someone who is just a little bit older with you. Besides enjoying fresh air and learning history facts, you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions – Was your school anything like this? What was different about your farm? Did your mom bake bread like that? Did you really butcher the pigs? – and be a part of bringing history to life. Make it your own treasure hunt. Who knows what riches you’ll uncover along the way!