a special feature by *Barbara Lehman, Grandmother Extraordinaire

It takes time together to build relationships, whether it’s a marriage or bonding with your grandchildren and family. And, no doubt, it’s a little tougher to do when the family is a long ways away; so a little ingenuity and desire is key here. Personally, I know how lucky I am, because two of my three sons and seven grandchildren live within 15 minutes of our home in Arizona so we have opportunities for building memories.

Hmmmm, with everyone’s schedules, activities, work, commitments, school and the like… I had often asked myself, “How could I start to establish a new way to bond, something we hadn’t done before?”  Then I had a brainstorm last year when a suggestion was made through our church to have small study groups during the Lenten period leading up to the Easter holiday. “This is perfect I thought…we could all be together, plain and simple.  Why not do the ‘small-group thing’ with my family?”  If you include the parents of my two daughters-in-law, we are a group of 17 – perfect.  And the lessons could be about Lent and Easter utilizing a holiday in which we all participate. A variety of beliefs are represented in our family-group…some celebrate only Easter Sunday, and others know very little about the rest of the six weeks of Lent. Not to mention, the kids can always use a refresher of their Sunday school lessons. And so it began: our own way to bond and start a new tradition.

We decided to meet on Sunday late afternoons and into the dinner hour, as that was about the only day that we could all find without a million obligations. We met about 4 pm., had a lesson on some aspect of Lent, such as Ash Wednesday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday and then had a potluck dinner. The kids (and adults) learned more about their Christian faith in dimensions that we explored together. We shared the responsibility of providing the lesson with only those who wished to lead the discussion, and we took turns hosting in our homes.

It turned out to be a great event and all wanted to do it again this year, as it was valuable for everyone and we renewed our family bond. This kind of activity can be done regardless of what faith a family is… Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, or otherwise.  You just need a little ingenuity and desire, as I mentioned before. In doing so, you will be creating a depth of tradition that will certainly leave a mark on your family and be the kind of memories you wish to make.

*Barbara Lehman, a former English teacher, is a ‘grandmother extraordinaire’ of 16 grandchildren.  She is the proud parent of three adult sons: one in Real Estate, one a Professional Golfer on the Champions PGA Tour, and one an Attorney and Sports Agent.  She has recently remarried after being widowed, has a larger blended family, and shuttles her time between Minnesota and Arizona.