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23 October 2021
Kelvin with baby grandson, Angus, happily watering the garden.
Words Kelvin Alley
It was Grandma’s day, set aside to spend with our granddaughter who is in her final year of primary school. Grandma looked forward to these days, as did our granddaughter. It started with a sleepover the night before, which meant a sleep-in, of course, at Grandma’s house, followed by Grandma’s special breakfast.
The project was to spend the day with Grandma in the kitchen. The task at hand – to cook a strawberry sponge cake from scratch. This was no packet job! Grandma was almost as good as your old-fashioned country cook.
Out came the flour, eggs and mixing bowl. Under Grandma’s loving and careful guidance, our granddaughter was doing everything herself.
Grandad walked in to see two cooks working diligently side by side. Our granddaughter had the bowl held tightly under her left arm; she held the metal spoon in her right hand and was turning the flour into the eggs, caster sugar and vanilla in order to make a lovely fluffy mixture.
Apparently, this is called ‘folding’. A packet mix off the shelf is too easy for Grandma. “You must learn things as I did when I was your age,” I heard her say.
Grandad went out to the backyard to water the plants. It wasn’t long before our baby grandson arrived for a visit. He is just seven months old, but his face lights up into a perpetual smile when he sets eyes on his grandma and grandad.
Hosing the garden is put on pause. Grandma is busy in the kitchen supervising the sponge. Grandad takes the little visitor on his arm and resumes the hosing – the scene from the kitchen is too much for Grandma – she pauses the cooking and grabs the camera – the image of the youngest grandson sitting happily on Grandad’s thigh, held tightly in his left arm with hose in his right, is too much to be ignored!
Within a few hours, our granddaughter could not have been prouder as she learned from Grandma how to whip the cream, spread it on the two sponges, join them, and then decorate the top with fresh strawberries.
She stood back – her first cake – made from scratch, and now keen to get home to show her masterpiece to her parents.
We should never underestimate the value of grandparents and the rich investment we can make in the lives of our grandchildren.
Not every grandma is a cook, nor every grandad handy with tools, garden skills or workshop craftsmanship. Each school holidays, my grandsons look forward to a solid hike in the national parks in south-east Queensland with their grandad. Not every grandad can do that, either.
Jasmine, following instructions from Grandma, is proud of her first cake baked from scratch.
However, grandparents have much to offer their grandchildren. Some may have special skills such as cooking or making nice things from wood, but most grandparents are gifted with the very essence of what our grandchildren need the most – interest and affection, kind words, acceptance and most importantly, unconditional love.
The Bible also show the critical importance of the influence of grandparents in the lives of their grandchildren. Addressing the congregation of Israel in Deuteronomy chapter 4, verse 9, Moses reminds his people how important it is for them to not forget the lessons they have learned in life and the wisdom they have accumulated, but to specifically pass them on to “your children and their children”.
Let no one tell grandparents that their lives are of no use, or that they are too old to be effective. With the Bible as our guide, and generations of experience behind us, be encouraged to embrace the critical influence that grandparents have to shape and sow lasting values into the lives of grandchildren.
It may not be widely known, but each year in Australia, the last Sunday of October is National Grandparents Day. It is intended as a day for families to honour grandparents and provide an opportunity for grandparents to show love for their grandchildren.
Why not do something special on that day? After all, grandparents and grandchildren are all part of God’s plan for the enrichment of our family life!
Colonel Kelvin Alley is a retired Salvation Army officer (pastor) in Queensland.