I can recall a memorable conversation with a grandfatherly gentleman some years ago. He told me that he read my books and had heard me on the radio, and he pulled me aside to share this: “There are two things that every kid needs—two things.” I listened very closely.

He reached into the pocket of his trousers and pulled out a pocket knife that must have been fifty years old. “Every kid needs a pocket knife,” he said. “Every one of my kids had a pocket knife—I even give them to my grandkids! My son came to me and said, ‘Dad, they’re going to cut themselves,’ and I said ‘It’ll only happen once.’”

Clearly, this white-haired gentleman knew something about children. And we all have to discern whether pocket knives would be positive things to give our own grandchildren, but I do respect the wisdom of this man’s experience. He had found his own unique way to make memories with his and grandkids. I encourage you to do the same.

Bring to life those unique features that make you the grandparent that you are. Find the magic and mystery of a pocket knife or a pocket watch. Your hobby may be the key that unlocks priceless moments. Consider a patient one-on-one woodworking lesson, a spin in your rebuilt Camaro, or playing board games together into the night. Memories that last forever can be made during breakfast dates at McDonald’s, hunting for arrowheads, or baiting a hook at that fishing hole that only the two of you know about.

The second piece of advice from my gray-haired friend was even simpler: “It is vital,” he said, “that we touch our kids every day, look ‘em in the eye, and tell ‘em that we love ‘em.”

It means so much more coming from a well-seasoned veteran: Affirm your grandchildren with touch; look them in the eye; say, “I love you.”

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As I thanked him for the good words, he touched me on the arm, looked me in the eye, and he told me that he loved me, and … to keep up the good work.

I promise, we will.