Marketta Gregory: Notes for kids
When I pulled out of my driveway in Oklahoma and headed out for a job in New York, it was my relationship with my nieces and nephews that I worried about the most. You see, I always wanted to be that aunt. The one who took you to movies. The one who invited you to spend the night -- or the week. The one who thought you were perfect at 3, at 13 and even at 30. That aunt.
I decided early on that I wouldn't let distance make me distant.
If you have young loved ones who live outside of arms’ reach, here are some suggestions to make staying in touch easier:
Use books. For an older child, I sent books from the “Chronicles of Narnia” and then called to discuss them. For a newborn niece in another state, I sent a new book every month. We've been known to read books on Skype, but I also recommend reading a book and uploading it to YouTube so your loved one can hear you reading anytime.
And for those of you who are grandmothers, try “My Grandma & Me,” by Crystal Bowman. It's designed to be shared not just with the grandchildren on your lap but for your grandchildren everywhere.
“Today's Christian parents have a tougher job than I did,” Bowman told me, adding that Grandma and Grandpa and aunts and uncles need to reinforce values and spiritual lessons. “Children need to hear biblical truths from more than just parents.”
Send things through the mail. Stickers. Tickets to a local museum or zoo. Your favorite comic strip from the newspaper. A toy from your childhood. A card with your hand traced on it and the book "The Kissing Hand" by Audrey Penn.
Try sending a page from a coloring book that you have colored, and a page for your friend to color. What about a photo album that shows a day in your life? Quick video messages sent via cellphone or burned to a DVD?
You could always write encouraging notes and ask Mom or Dad to slip them in to lunchboxes or send a calendar with handwritten prayers, scriptures and jokes on it. Generous bloggers have also made free ABC books based on scriptures. All you have to is download them. Print and cut.
All the trips to the post office are worth it because Bowman is right. We have an important role to play – regardless of where we live.
Marketta Gregory is a former religion reporter who now shares her own journey of faith with readers. She lives in Rochester, New York, with her husband, their three young boys and one very vocal Pomeranian. To contact Gregory, email email@example.com or write to her at P.O. Box 12923, Rochester, NY 14612. You can also visit the Simply Faithful page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter (@MarkettaGregory).