Do Your Grandchildren Know Their Heritage?

Written by Judy Douglass, Author, Blogger, and Podcaster

Hopefully, you will be with or talk with some of your grandchildren on Grandparent’s Day (September 10th). What a great time to tell them a little about your heritage—it’s theirs as well.

If you ask my children about their heritage, they will say, “On my father’s side we are Swedish (with a little Scottish for the Douglass name), and on my mother’s side we are Texan.

We celebrate those heritages! My husband is grateful for the once-a-year recognition of his Scandinavian roots with Swedish pancakes and lingonberries every Christmas morning. I make a great split pea soup—a favorite in Sweden—and fruit soup that provides good fruits in the long, cold winters. We haven’t initiated any Scottish celebration yet.

Texas Dominates

But Texas—that’s another story. We celebrate it all year long in my Texas room, complete with Texas flags, bluebonnets, Longhorns, maps, and a saddle. All the grandkids have their picture taken on the saddle.

My pride in my Texas heritage goes way back—on my mother’s side, we helped settle the state. William Stanhope Taylor, my great-great grandfather, arrived in Texas with Stephen F. Austin and played a role in the Revolution.

Our family has a letter describing his role in the Battle of San Jacinto, recounting especially chasing after Santa Anna, discovering him dressed as a simple soldier, capturing the General, and bringing him back to General Sam Houston.

On my father’s side, my great-great grandfather arrived in the early days of Dallas, coming from Mississippi after the War Between the States. Again, the family helped settle that great city I grew up in.

My great-great grandparents apparently attended different churches as they helped start two churches that still exist in Dallas: First Baptist and All Saints Episcopal.

My heritage also goes back farther than Texas. My predominant European heritage is Irish, from both my mother and father. My Downs maiden name came from Isle of Man, between England and Ireland. It was originally Gaelic—or Irish, then settled by Vikings, conquered by the English and by the Scottish. It is now part of the British Commonwealth.

Tickell and Looney

My mother’s maiden name, Looney, was first found in Ireland’s County Tyrone. I still have much history to discover with the Looneys. The rest of my mother’s heritage was English, with names like Field and Taylor. My father’s father married a Pennsylvania girl with a German background. One of our favorite stories: My father’s middle name was Tickell, and you’ve seen my mother’s maiden name was Looney. Tickell married Looney.

I love learning about all the diversity of my heritage, which is clearly Northern European. And Texan. I try to keep our family heritage alive by telling the stories and bringing memories alive.

When my daughter Michelle was in fifth grade, her class was studying heritage and each student was to dress like someone from their family background and bring a food from that culture to share. Michelle dressed as St Lucia, the bearer of light, for a traditional Swedish Christmas celebration, and brought fruit soup to share.

Because our son is adopted, we also focus on his heritage, though many parts are unknown. His 96-year-old grandmother has told us many stories.

The Greatest Heritage

But of course, there is the greatest heritage of all to discover and learn: the fact that I am a daughter of God, adopted into His family, inheriting all the history and rights of Jesus the Son of God.

And as much as I celebrate other heritages, this is the one that matters the most. What I have received in this family I share with as many others as I can. It’s a family everyone can freely join—and would surely want to if they understood all that it means to belong to God Himself.

So on Grandparent’s Day, talk to your grandkids. Tell them about their historic heritage, and your own stories. How did your parents meet? What kind of work did they do? What were some of your hopes and dreams? How did you meet Jesus?

Take the initiative. Be intentional. Answer their questions. And maybe ask them those same questions.

Have fun. Make some new history.


Editor’s Note: Check out Legacy Coalition’s Grandparents Day Kit with free downloadable resources for you to celebrate, honor, and challenge grandparents.

Judy Douglass is a writer, speaker, and encourager. She has been on staff with Cru for more than 50 years, currently directing Women’s Resources. Her latest book is When You Love a Prodigal. You can find more about her at www.judydouglass.com. This blog was first published here.

4 thoughts on “Do Your Grandchildren Know Their Heritage?”

  1. Thank you very much for this article. What do you think is age appropriate for this? We have 3 young grand boys and aren’t real certain what they’ll understand and remember.

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