Dear Alex,

Your grandparents, and your whole family, for that matter, have given you an amazing gift. They have given your incredible roots with strong wings. You are so lucky!

I am much older than you. My grandparents, both sets, have passed on long ago. Some in different countries, under very different circumstances. But I miss them all, tremendously, & I think of them every day. Their gifts are without number & as varied as can be!

Unfortunately, my own parents, who are terrific parents, make for lousy grandparents because they only know how to be parents. So they only try to be parents to my kids, instead of being grandparents! My husband & I vowed to our children we’d be different! We’ll spoil & have fun without disciplining, not lecture not constantly try for a teachable moment. But my parents are from the “old country,” Soviet Union, & too old to change. As much as they love (& they love in a suffocating, strangling kind of overwhelming way, especially the Jewish mothers), they will always criticize first & loud, not praise enough & it’s their way or the highway. Honestly, my mother’s parents weren’t like that at all!

You’re lucky, very lucky to be born in this great country of ours. American-born folks are some of the most easy-going people on this earth. I envy the love I see between children & parents & grandparents. It is both binding & freeing. It must be nice — I am not being sarcastic, I’m genuinely jealous.

Writer and storyteller, immigrant, wife, mom, knitter, collector of jokes, lover of cheap, sweet wine.