With Grandparent's Day just around the corner on September 14, Sue Johnson and Julie Carlson of www.Grandloving.com offer the following gift ideas, especially suited for families who are a long distance from each other:. (If YOU are the grandparent, pass these on to your sons and daughters to ease their stress about what to give you on the holiday).
1. You might send your kids’ pictures laminated onto paper in the shape of a placemat so they will be smiling up at Nana and Papa at every meal.
2. Or have the kids glue their photos onto cardboard, cut it into a puzzle, and send it with the note, "Put this together and see who loves and misses you!"
3. And don't overlook videos: Cameras can be rented by the day. Any personalized production will become an heirloom that the whole family will love.
4. Send a blank audio cassette with questions for the grandparents to tell favorite family stories on your "sound scrapbook". Ask how they fell in love, what was mom like as a kid etc.
5. Then send another tape recording of the grandchildren -- singing, talking or telling about their lives. They could read off a list of "I love you because" statements, or even make a tape of riddles and jokes.
6. Start a photo and story history book. If you let your children's imaginations take flight, you'll end up with a priceless family history of paintings, drawings, family tales, and photographs.
7. Let the grandparents know when it’s a good time to call, and before you put the children on the line give your folks a hint about what has been happening in the kids’ lives so the call can be meaningful to all.
8. Find a mutual interest between the grandparents and grandkids -- fishing, puppet shows, woodworking, cooking, gardening -- then build on it by nurturing the hobby together.
9. If you have computers and faxes, use email and the fax to stay close. Because of its nearly instantaneous delivery, the kids may find themselves writing more frequently and casually than ever.
10. Whether you try your hand at "magical mirror messages" (written backwards), make your own special letter codes, or start a story that can be exchanged, playful games and puzzles can recharge any long-distance relationship. The most important thing is to keep sending those letters. Learning to send love by phone, email, fax, and mail can be a bittersweet part of families separated by distance. But the next time your children see their grandparents, all will be rewarded as they fly into each other’s arms with a happy shout of "Opa!" or "Bubbie!" that will make your efforts worthwhile.