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Thursday, August 9, 2018

Don't give your grandchild a wrapped gift

Do you think your grandchild has enough toys, games, and trinkets? 

Me too.

My daughter-in-law posted something on Facebook a couple of years ago that changed my gift-giving life. It was a little essay suggesting that grandparents give experiences rather than wrapped gifts for birthdays and special occasions.


Now, after a couple of dozen turns of calendar pages, I can say this new tradition has sometimes saved money, but not always. It definitely takes more time than simply purchasing something. 

And dang it's been fun.

I usually let the boys choose the outing, except for once when I felt too tired to drive. That time, we enjoyed a simple walk in the neighborhood and to the local coffee shop/bakery where we watched workers creating cinnamon buns. (That is still my favorite of all the dates and makes me think a fun challenge would be to create dates where you spend no money or maybe just a little.) We've also visited the art museum, the public natural museum, Grant Park, and Discovery World. With each date, we've had one-on-one time that we rarely get . . . along with some pretty hilarious stories, conversations, and questions.

For the first few "dates," I went by myself with the grandchildren. Eventually I insisted that the old man join us, even though he still sort of lives at work and he's a hard guy to pin down. But I think he'd agree that these have been precious, and funny, times.

Below is a little photo gallery of some of our birthday dates (Oliver's photos didn't turn out). This year the youngest of our six grandsons, Max, will be old enough for a date. And there's a little girl who will join our family soon, and maybe in a year or two, we'll have a whole new kind of birthday outing . . . .

Remember, love is spelled T - I - M - E. . . . 

David making art at the Milwaukee Art Museum
Mike, David and I show our art pieces that will be part of a large installation.
David wanted his picture taken by the giant mural outside Café Lulu.
Isaac and me at Grant Park
Grant Park again
Isaac at the Milwaukee Public Museum
Mike and Isaac at the butterfly wing of the museum
Liam sketching at the Milwaukee Art Museum
Simon at the butterfly wing of the Milwaukee Public Museum
Simon and butterflies
Grandpa and butterfly

David climbing his first tree after a walk in the neighborhood

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Liam's thank you note after one birthday adventure

Gail Grenier is the author of Young Voices from Wild Milwaukee, Dog Woman, Don't Worry Baby, Dessert First, and Calling All Horses, all available on

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