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So many of our most cherished memories involve grandparents or other relatives. Bring generations together in your family with some of these ideas.

1. Plan a family celebration that brings everyone into the family picture.

  • When there's a religious life-cycle event (such as a baptism or Bar Mitzvah), add to the service by addressing the child's grandparents with words like these: "We recognize that you will always be an important part of this child's life..."
  • At a milestone birthday or anniversary, ask members of each generation to make a contribution. For instance, if it's a 13th birthday, ask grandparents to describe their 13th birthday or their teen years.
  • When a child enters school, ask grandparents to reminisce about their school days -- particular teachers they remember, exciting or embarrassing experiences, etc. 
2. Collect memories.
  • Set aside New Year's Day as "create a scrapbook day." Bring out a year's worth of mementos -- programs, school papers, balloons, photos, clippings, etc. Assemble a scrapbook depicting your year.
  • As part of a family gathering, ask each family member to bring something from a day he/she will long remember and talk about the object -- maybe a lock of hair, a newspaper clipping, a phone message, etc.
  • Involve children in a project to interview and record the life stories of the older generation -- much like the ongoing StoryCorps project.
3. Divide your extended family into groups along new lines. For example: by seasons in which birthdays occur, by favorite color, by favorite season. These groups might: 
  • Exchange gifts among one another by drawing each others' names.
  • Create a banner or poster for a family celebration.
  • Plan an outing together -- a football game, a play, a school band concert.
These are some ideas to help get the ball rolling. What are some of the ways your family interacts across generations? Share an extended family photo from your most recent (or not-so-recent) get-together!

Esther Schak,
Parent Educator, Saint Paul ECFE


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