What is the protocol regarding when to tell grandparents of a pending engagement? Also, is there an inyan for a chosson to take his potential kallah to visit the grandparents – and if yes, when?
Though I am not familiar with any formal or universal conventions in either of these realms, and rather than broaching what I believe are a number of factors which may warrant consideration in order to assess the uniqueness of each situation before proceeding in these areas, I would like to share a personal story with the readers of this column which I hope will prove meaningful and instructive.
Many moons ago, the young woman who was imminently to become my kallah expressed a strong wish for me to meet her maternal grandparents, who did not live in her home town, and I was more than happy to oblige. Her grandfather on that side was not well, unfortunately, and as he would almost assuredly not be healthy enough to travel for any upcoming chasunos, we took advantage of an auspicious occasion which allowed for a visit. As the Hashgacha Elyonah would have it, we were unable to see him again after the engagement, and not only was he unable to attend the simcha, he was niftar the very night of our wedding. The time spent with him during our pre-engagement trip would be the only time I was privileged to get to know him.
My grandfather-in-law was an exceptionally kind and remarkably special man, and, b’chasdei Hashem, relatively shortly thereafter, we were zocheh to name our oldest son after him – a connection made all the more singular and touching having been in the presence our son’s namesake, and experiencing firsthand his love and pride for his family. It was but for a few hours that we were able to see and speak with one another, but each of those moments will be treasured forevermore. I remain eternally grateful to my wife, shetichyeh, for her aspiration to make that introduction happen, and to HaKadosh Boruch Hu, for affording me that opportunity, as the window turned out to be much smaller than we had realized.
Once a suitable juncture has presented itself, becoming acquainted with one’s soon-to-be mishpacha and being blessed with the prospect of bringing them nachas from their progeny, new and old, is an invaluable gift that should never be squandered. Whether or not it will be a consociation that lasts for decades and generations is beyond the scope of our awareness, but regardless of the extent of its future duration, each and every prelude to the building of that affiliation is precious and priceless, and aids in cultivating and forging the relationships of life which support and uplift us for all time.
May the Mechalkel Chayim B’chesed grant us all arichus yomim v’shonim, and may He bind the bonds of family ever closer for us all.