“An Evening with the Grandchildren,” Ensign, Sept. 1995, 72–73
One hot summer evening my husband and I were relaxing after a family barbecue. As we talked about the wonderful afternoon we had spent with our children and grandchildren, we realized we both had a deep desire to get to know our grandchildren better. We wanted them to enrich our lives—and we wanted to be a good influence in theirs. We talked with our children, and together we came up with a plan. One night each month we would have all the grandchildren come to our house while their parents went out on a date by themselves. Our children were pleased because the arrangement gave them time to be alone together without their having to hire a baby-sitter. And we were glad to spend the evening with our grandchildren.
At first we wondered how we would keep the grandchildren involved and happy for a whole evening, but over time our evenings evolved into a flexible routine. After opening with prayer, we would have story time. We have found great joy in occasionally helping teach our grandchildren about faith and spirituality using stories from the Book of Mormon and lessons from the family home evening resource book. This reinforces, but does not replace, the gospel instruction that the grandchildren receive from their parents.
Initially, we told the stories, complete with visual aids, but soon we decided everyone needed a turn in the spotlight. Every month we assigned different grandchildren to share stories for the next month’s activity. Sometimes they would illustrate a story and tell it in their own words; other times they would paste summaries on the back of artwork and read as they showed the pictures. And sometimes the children would come prepared with their own original stories to tell.
After story time we have an activity. Over the years, these varied activities have included these family favorites:
Game nights in which everyone gets involved in playing board games or putting together puzzles.
Service projects such as making greeting cards for the grandchildren’s great-grandmother who lives in a nursing home.
Holiday crafts. Our children’s Christmas trees are decorated with several ornaments made during an evening’s activity.
Family newspaper projects in which each grandchild writes a poem, draws a picture, or contributes in some other way for each edition. Every child gets a copy of the finished product, and we mail other copies to relatives.
Honor night. One year we decided to honor each of the grandchildren with a trophy. On each trophy, a grandchild’s name was engraved along with one good quality he or she had developed. The trophies honored such qualities as “Happy,” “Helpful,” or “Good Reader.”
There seems to be a season for everything, and for us this is the season to enjoy our grandchildren. The greatest benefit of making these special and priceless memories with our grandchildren is the closeness we all feel as a family as we have drawn together and become a bigger part of each other’s lives.—Verretta Toland, Pleasanton, California