Instead of riding down backcountry roads in vintage Model T’s and circling around the radio for news updates and comedic entertainment, teens today ride around in polished Honda SUVs, shuffle through songs on their Spotify playlists, listen to podcasts, and watch movies play on their phone screens. Outhouses have been replaced with automatic flush toilets; cold bucket baths have been swapped with steamy hot showers; hours on the farm have been taken over by time spent in front of laptop computers; and late night chats sipping tea with family and friends have been substituted with midnight rendezvous with strangers in sports bars.
While times have undoubtedly changed drastically since our grandparents were kids, in many ways, life is remains very much the same. Teens still fall in love, hearts are still broken, students still struggle in school, turkey and pumpkin pie are still served on Thanksgiving, and the world continues to spin madly on. Coming to terms with the similarities between the now and then helps to not only better comprehend history, but it can significantly strengthen familial ties and your understanding of self. After all, who your grandparents were
is part of you who you are. ---
Q: What was growing up like for you? What are some of your favorite memories?
Granny and Pops oftentimes feel that younger generations treat them like they’ve been old their entire lives. By asking your grandparents what it was like for them as kids, you acknowledge that they weren’t actually born gray, achy and ‘out of the loop’. Despite popular belief, they too had a childhood! With inevitable change taking place daily, every grandparent grew up in a much different world than we know today. Giving your grandparents the chance to explain their favorite memories and some of the positive aspects of the past starts unimaginable conversation. And of course, it’s always neat to watch their faces light up when they talk about their favorite childhood memories.
Q: What was one of the hardest things for you at my age?
Similarly to inquiring about the more positive chapters in your grandparents’ life, it’s equally important to know the harder experiences. This will give you a greater appreciation for who they are, as well as for the world’s overall progress. It will allow you to see how hard people have fought over the years to support human rights, equality, better education, advanced technology, etc. You will start to view your grandparents (and all of the elderly, really) with new eyes and deeper respect. Their lives will inspire you, and you’ll have hope for how quickly things can change. You’ll look to the future with more curiosity and excitement for what is yet to come.
Q: How old were you when you fell in love? What was it like? How did you know it was the ‘real deal’? What advice do you have on love and marriage for couples today?
The idea of love and marriage has drastically changed in the last 50 years, but, grandparents give us hope. The majority of grandparents have compelling love stories. They found their partner in a different setting, in a more vulnerable and intimate world than we know today, free of social media and dating websites. Most of them are still married and have made their romantic relationship their life’s top priority. Where we have apathy and indifference towards love, grandparents worked incredibly hard to ensure that love lasts. Hearing these love stories is encouraging and inspiring. It restores hope in what it means to find ‘the one’, reassuring coming generations that true love is possible. And it’s beautiful.
Q: What positive changes have you seen in our country throughout your life?
It’s always interesting to hear how the ‘changing times’ have brought about benefits, from someone’s perspective who lived through it all.
Q: What are some things I did as a kid that I may not remember? What was I like, in your eyes? How have you seen me grow?
Since we can’t remember all the nitty gritty details of our childhood, asking our older family members, who do remember, is an interesting way to look into our own lives from an outer window. Asking these sorts of questions can stir nostalgia, as well as teach you more about yourself and who you are today. The answers also give birth to memories that may have otherwise gone forgotten.
Q: What was it like raising my mom/ dad? Name some of your favorite memories with her/ him.
As kids, we all think of our parents as perfect role models. But, when we grow older, we start to realize that they aren’t the flawless creatures we once thought they were. (Mom was the brat who stole Nanny’s lipstick and colored squiggles all over her favorite wallpaper. Dad put soap on your uncle’s toothpaste and threw a golf ball through the living room window just for fun.) Talking to our grandparents—i.e. the people who raised our parents—is a great way to look into our parents’ lives, through lenses we could never use otherwise. It’s interesting to see the overlap in similarities, as well as the stark differences between your childhood and that of your parents’ through the eyes of your grandparents. What ways were you like your mom? What are some of the deeply embedded personality traits you share? How are you fundamentally different? What are things your parents experienced that you were completely oblivious of? Was it as hard for your grandparents and parents to get along and see eye-to-eye as it is for you and your parents? All of these questions help deepen the bond between you and your grandparents, as well as the relationship with your own parents. It reveals the humanity in us all. (Plus, it gives you full right to poke fun of your folks for all the stupid stuff they did as little younglings!)
Q: What is your deepest wish for the future, and for my life as your grandchild?
It doesn’t get much more heart wrenching than this. Knowing what your grandparents hope will happen in your life, and in the world long after they’ve passed, is incredibly moving. What are their deepest hopes and fears? What are their dreams for you? Oh my, they love you so much! --- Though the vintage convertibles, dirt roads and sink buckets are long gone, today’s modern life experiences remain the same. Spend time with your Ma and Pa to not only learn more about them, but also more about yourself. After all, your grandparents’ past is very much part of your present and future! At Legacybox, we love looking back on life’s most precious moments
. Consider video taping this little interview with your grandparents
, and then send it our way. We can digitize it for you, so that you can hold onto a preserved, archived treasure
of what was and what is. This is the perfect gift for your family and coming generations!