Ten things our grandparents did that nobody would ever do now

Posted in Family.

Growing up, I was lucky enough to regularly see all four of my grandparents. They looked after the three of us kids all the time and knew the comings and goings of our lives intimately. By and large, it was great.

In the past 15 years, we have lost them all and I often wonder, now I am a parent myself, what they would make of the world I’m raising my kids in.

They were Depression-era kids and I’ve always thought it made them resourceful and clever people, who weren’t into buying anything they didn’t need and thought nothing was more important than their families.

Their presence made our childhood pretty idyllic, but that’s not to say they didn’t have a crazy idea or two!

We asked our staff and community to share some of the stranger things their grandparents did – and oh boy, we would probably not do it now.

1. Use a fabric handkerchief, not a tissue

“My parents actually both still do this. And it always makes me smile when I see my dad wiping our toddler’s incessantly running nose. It’s true that it doesn’t hurt the skin as much. You just gotta remember to wash them!”

2. “You can’t eat that!”

“I was a super chubby tween and my grandfather never let me forget it. He’d often take my dessert plate away at family lunches, with a knowing kind of nod! It was so awful, I can’t imagine anyone getting away with that now!”

3. Refer to older people as Mrs or Mr

“I think nothing of introducing everyone using a person’s first name. But my grandparents would all be shaking their head at me. They always used a Mr and Mrs to introduce me to anyone older than me.”

4. Make cakes from scratch, not packet mixes

“Both my grandmothers and my mum are excellent cooks and baking cakes was taught to us young. Once you have a simple recipe, it really doesn’t take long. And nothing beats the smell in the house while it’s cooking.”

grandparent playing with baby

5. Breakfast is made to eat at the table

“Growing up we had regular sleepovers with both sets of grandparents and at both houses, we’d always sit at the table together and eat breakfast. I try to do this with my boys now a few days of the week. It does make the morning feel a bit more special than everyone taking to their corners or standing over the sink with a bowl!”

6. “I’ll take that down to the garage and fix it myself”

“How to sew, how to cook, how to paint a wall, how to fix a broken toy. Among my four grandparents, they covered almost every possible skill there is. Rarely did they have to pay anyone to fix anything.” 

7. Making phone calls from two ends of the house

“When you’d ring my grandparents’ house, you could count the five peals of the phone. My grandfather would always pick up first and then about 3 seconds later, you’d hear my grandmother picking up the other phone at the other end of the house. Conference call – 1980s style.”

8. Catching some rays

“My Pop viewed the sun, and the beach in particular, as nature’s doctor. And although these days we know the value of Vitamin D, he was talking more about getting a deep, dark tan as a cure for life’s ills. Sick? Go get a tan. Acne? Go get yourself a tan. Jellyfish? Go sit in the sun for an hour. Sunburnt? Ok, take a hot shower, (!!) then get back out there, and put some freckles on that burn!”

9. Smacks

“If you raided Granny’s pantry and tried to steal one of her glorious, home-made baked goods, you were getting a a tap on the wrist – a smack –  for your trouble and an admonishment never to do that again.”

10. Money mailed in envelopes

“It’s pretty much unheard of now, because nobody trusts the postal system (or anyone who lives close by, for that matter) but every birthday, I could count on Nanna sending me a card with five or ten dollars in it – opening that envelope always felt like I’d won the lottery.”


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