The conventional wisdom, as usual, is right: Being a grandparent really is wonderful.
Almost nothing could have pleased me more as the holidays came on than to see several of my grandchildren in performances. So far we have enjoyed two onstage, and two in make-believe shows at home. My husband and I have 12 grandchildren between us, but because they don’t all live nearby, we look forward to trips hither and yon for catching up.
Here at home, Adelia had a star turn as Claire — otherwise known as Clara — in “Mixed Nuts,” the Studio 3 version of “The Nutcracker”; Evvy was a splendid Fairy Godmother in “Cinderella” at school. In Nova Scotia, where we are spending Christmas, Teddy and Nettie modeled their incredible collection of costumes as they put on a living-room performance for us, taking the parts of bad pirate (armed with cutlass) and regal princess (armed with concealed Nerf gun) in an improvised melodrama. Nettie and Teddy also treated us last night to sing-along renditions, in the sweetest voices a grandparent could hope for, of Christmas classics: “Oh, Christmas Tree,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “The Huron Carol.”
Nettie also sang along with bouncy spirit to an oddly entertaining YouTube animated video called “The Duck Story.” Now, I don’t think every grandparent or parent would care about this silly ditty, but I have to admit I loved it: An impertinent duck walks up to a lemonade stand and asks for grapes (“Got any grapes?” a refrain made more charming by Nettie’s slight lisp), then waddles away . . . over and over. The conventional wisdom is that being around the young keeps you young, so maybe that is why I was almost as taken with this repetitive little bit of nonsense as my 6-year-old granddaughter. Hurray for kids who like to sing!
Of course, the holidays are about your friends’ families, too. One of our oldest and dearest revived her annual Christmas party this month after a two-year hiatus, and it was like an early Christmas present to us all. When my own kids were young, we saw this family all the time, for beach picnics and winter holidays and kids’ pool parties, and we share deep memories of Christmases spent together over the years. What a delight to meet again the host’s nearly grown (and very charming) grandchildren and learn where their young lives have led them so far, to college and other adventures.
We are headed back to the States in a few days to share New Year’s near Boston with another branch of the family. Seeing our two Massachusetts grandchildren will cap off the season. The conventional wisdom, once again, is that aging isn’t for sissies, but this time I think there is something better to say: Aging can be a time of joy.