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A Very Very Grand Daughters Week

We told our daughter and her husband that we would take their two little ladies for spring break. As anyone who remembers having kids, a week without them is a wonderful vacation.

At first we thought we would have them come to AZ and enjoy warm weather. But then we thought, have them come to MN. It had not snowed since mid-February and was +70 the previous week. What could go wrong?

Even thought the weather was different than we anticipated, we had a great week. Our condo in the Twin Cities has a pool and they swam every day. We did lots of cool stuff, they played with their cousins and spent time with other family members.

We also had class most every day. When they got to MN I told the little ladies we would be studying history and if they paid attention in class they would receive Target dollars. We had roll call at the beginning of each class and students were expected to pay attention. This was met with a round of giggles. I said there would be no giggling class. This led to more giggles.

At the beginning we talked about family history, specifically ancestors. I said ancestors are part of our family tree who have passed on. I asked how many relatives did they know who had an ancestor in their name. Turns out both of them along with their cousins in MSP as well as a number of other relatives. The oldest student whose middle name is Doyle, said she did not qualify as an example since I was still living. Though I appreciate the precision, the smart ass tone was taken into consideration when calculating Target dollars.

Starting with my mom, their great grandmother who was born in 1917, I put together a four generation family tree on my side. Since time is a difficult concept for most people, we talked about how long it was between birthdays and then imagine over a hundred years since my my mom was born. When your nine and six that is a really long time.

I asked them what did not exist when my mom was born. One said iPads. I said actually she had an iPad, just no electricity to run it. Humor is always important in a classroom setting. We then discussed then when my mom was born most homes did not have electricity especially in rural areas. Her parents used lamps and candles to see at night. This is one of the reasons the big meal was at noon as easier to cook in natural light.

She was born at home which was where the majority of births took place at that time. Houses were heated by stoves burning wood or coal.

One historical fact that really upset my oldest granddaughter was that women could not vote when my mom was born. She could not believe it with the direct quote being “that was really stupid”. I agreed. She is familiar with current struggle by women for Women’s Rights and has vowed to never live in Texas. I would throw in a few other states like Florida and Alabama, but Texas is a good start.

We talked about the Depression and I mentioned my family lost their money during the depression because it was held in banks of which many failed. The Depression was a very difficult time period, but some good things came out of it including banking regulations, SEC regulations, social security which guaranteed retirees an income, and the WPA. My mom was a lifelong Democrat and one of the reasons is the Democrats of that time period and going forward supported citizens in the lower and middle incomes.

Though they had heard of WWII, we spent very little time and skipped to 1956 when a life changing event took place in our family. 1956 is when my father was killed in a farm accident. I was five and half. What wanted the little ladies to understand is with six kids ranging from nineteen to two, living on a poor farm with no money, she figured out how to go college obtaining a teaching degree so she could support her family. The point I wanted to make is that as women with my mom’s blood in their veins, no matter the difficulty, they will have the strength and determination to over come it.

Finally, we spent part of our last class on religion. I told them that their great grandma’s faith was a very important of her life as it is with other of their family members. My mom was LCA which later merged with the ALC to become the ELCA. ELCA is considered to be the progressive part of the Lutheran division of Christian religions. One of the reasons the ELCA is considered to be progressive is the ELCA believes God loves all people equally including all people of color and sexualities. This seems to be a basic teaching of Jesus, but there a lot who call themselves Christians disagree.

We discussed there are a number of major religions of which one is Christianity. Within Christianity there a wide variety of perspectives or beliefs. I said religion is like going into a big grocery store with lots and lots of different options. I said for me, being a follower of Jesus starts with one of his main teachings, “love your neighbor as yourself“. This is important first because Jesus taught everyone was your neighbor. Second because loving oneself, not in a bad way but in a healthy way, makes it possible to love all your neighbors.

Literally there are whole sections in libraries on any of the above topics. But giving my granddaughters a little historical perspective within their roots is a good thing. They both got their Target dollars.

For thousands of years we sat around campfires or fireplaces and talked about our ancestors and the times they lived in. In a different format, my classes were an attempt to do this.