It might just be because we are more aware of things with the advent of Facebook and social media, or it might be my age, but it seems like many of my friends have been dealing with the loss of a grandparent. Often, it is the last living grandparent, and one they are very close to. I experienced this myself a couple of years ago, when my Grandma Milholland suffered a stroke and passed away shortly before Christmas that year. It is hard to lose someone who was such a big part of my life, but I know I am lucky to have known her, and she lived a very full 93 years.

Seeing my friends post about their own special relationships with their grandparents has me thinking about my own kids, and how grateful I am that they have four grandparents playing a very active role in their lives. So here at Thanksgiving, when so many people take the opportunity to spout off about things they are thankful for, I’m going to join in with a list of why I’m thankful for grandparents.

They help out in times of need. And this goes for all four! Granted, my parents live closer, only 45 minutes away as opposed to 7 hours for Bill’s, but all of them are willing to lend a helping hand when needed. My parents are there to watch the kids if Bill and I both have to be somewhere for work, and Bill’s parents have even taken the kids out of the house for me to have some quiet time to work when they’re around. With both Bill and I having busy careers, and mine one where I work from home, I depend on this safety net quite often. Not to mention the many times my mom has kept the “grand-dogs” while we’ve gone out of town!

They teach the kids valuable things. Sewing, playing gin rummy, fishing and answering theological questions are just a few of the things the grandparents have done with my kids that I am not well-equipped to do myself. Not only are they learning something, but they are spending time together while doing these activities. I will always remember sitting with my mom’s mother and doing puzzles on a Saturday morning, or helping Grandma Milholland pull weeds in  her garden. I might have learned that it’s important to pull out the edge pieces of the puzzle first, or how to tell the difference between a dandelion and a daffodil, but I also got to hear stories of their childhood and learn other interesting facts.

They bring a different perspective to life. I’m a huge fan of exposing kids to many different generations. My dad might not know who Taylor Swift is, but his experience in dealing with many different personalities through his careers as both a CPA and later a Presbyterian minister help him bring a sense of calm to some of the interpersonal dealings within in our family, something my kids, as well as myself, would be advised to learn from. All four of my kids’ grandparents have a wealth of knowledge to pass on, and I’m glad my kids are getting the opportunity to learn from them.

The four grandparents in my kids’ lives do all this and so much more. They love them unconditionally, they tell them stories about me and their dad that make them laugh and helps them learn about where we came from, they help pass on family traditions and they help create new ones.

This Thanksgiving, the kids are lucky they will get to spend time with all of their grandparents. They’re looking forward to Grandma Alley’s enchiladas the day after Thanksgiving and a trip to Grandma Sandra’s where no one polices the candy or the chocolate milk. And I’m looking forward to it to. For there’s one thing I’ve learned from being the person sandwiched between these two generations is I need to worry less about how much the kids are getting spoiled, and instead be grateful that they have grandparents here to spoil them.