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Sharing Small Moments and Simple Traditions with Grandparents

By: Fifth Grade Teacher Annie Menees

May 8, 2019

For over a decade, a special person smiled in the second row at Rossman’s annual Grandparents’ Day concert. She was not the grandparent of a student but of a teacher! How many people get to bring Grandma to school for thirty-five years?

This Friday will mark the first time my grandmother doesn’t accompany me to Grandparents’ Day at Rossman. After losing her two weeks ago at the age of 97, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on our relationship and time together. What stands out to me are not the extravagant events like family trips, graduations or weddings but small, seemingly mundane moments together and the little traditions that, however simple, meant so much to me over the years.

For some reason, I remember with such fondness eating bagels and cream cheese with my grandma on a massive tree stump in her yard. I remember having lemonade stands on the sidewalk in front of her house since she lived on a busier street than we did. I remember exploring every nook and cranny of her fascinating pre-Civil War farmhouse in Kirkwood and popping out at her from my favorite hiding spots.  

The traditions we shared are even more precious to me now than ever. When I was little, the tradition was sewing doll clothes together, an outfit each week. She had all the skill, but I had the eyesight. We had a deal — I would get the thread through the tiny hole in the needle, and she would do the rest while I watched from my perch on her lap. I can still feel the stamp, stamp, stamp of the sewing machine and the pump, pump, pump of her foot on the pedal.

As I grew older, our traditions all involved music. We attended jazz concerts together whenever we could, and I served as her DJ when she put on “Wartime Jazz” programs at libraries around town to honor my grandfather, who had been a music critic for the Post-Dispatch and jazz DJ on KWMU and KMOX radio stations.

The most special tradition, however, started when I was barely old enough to attend the midnight service at our church on Christmas Eve. For over twenty-five years, she and I shared this special evening, just the two of us, when everyone else had already gone to sleep. I remember feeling so grown up those first few years, even though I could barely keep my eyes open, and then the same happened the last few years from being the mother of a sleepless baby! Oh, how things changed in my life over those years, but for over a quarter of a century, that tradition held. I cherished that time with my grandma so much that I wouldn’t — and didn’t — miss it for anything.

From my first year as a teacher onward, Grandma and I loved attending Rossman’s two main singing events each year and surprising the kids with the fact that, yes, my grandma was there, too! Each December, we kicked off the winter holidays by watching the Rossman children sing at the festive Holiday Program, and we celebrated spring each May by listening to the Grandparents’ Day Program and going out to lunch afterwards.

This week, as we celebrate all of the special grandparents in the Rossman community, I will be treasuring all of the little moments I get to witness between my students and their grandparents. And I’ll be fondly remembering my own Grandma. I’m so grateful to the school for hosting these beautiful events and encouraging a family atmosphere so that everyone in the Rossman community has the opportunity to share these wonderful traditions with their loved ones.

As I continue to cherish the memories I made with my grandma, I am also watching with delight as my two-year-old daughter’s relationship with her grandma, my mom, blossoms in those same little mundane but meaningful moments together: walking down the driveway to get the paper, watering the plants, and taking the dogs for walks around the neighborhood. I can’t wait to see what traditions they build together as she grows up because I know that these moments and memories will live forever in my daughter’s heart like they do in mine!

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Rossman School, nestled on a 20-acre campus in Creve Coeur, is an independent private preparatory school for students in Junior Kindergarten (four years old) through Grade 6. The school’s mission is to provide a strong, well-balanced education in a nurturing school community committed to excellence. Dedicated to developing personal, nurturing relationships with each child, Rossman’s experienced educators provide a solid foundation in academics, athletics and arts while emphasizing strong character development and leadership skills.​ Request a free Rossman School brochure here.

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