Beard re-emerges as grandpa’s tradition
Beard's the word in the Gilner and Grigsby families.
Each time Tonganoxie resident Andy Gilner and his wife, Margie, have found out they were going to have a child, Andy Gilner has decided to give his razor a rest and grown out a beard to signify that a baby was on the way.
Three times he went through the routine for their three children -- Amanda, now 29, Michael, 26, and Thomas, 24.
"I don't know, it was just something different, coming from a large family", said Gilner, who has four brothers and four sisters.
He said his siblings, especially his brothers, didn't commemorate the news in a specific way.
Gilner wanted to be different.
"I just wanted to do something to let everybody know we were having a baby," Andy said. "That was kind of the reason behind it."
More than 20 years after growing a beard for a new baby in the family, he has opted to forgo a razor once again.
This time, it was to recognize the expected arrival of his and Margie's first grandchild.
Their daughter, Amanda Grigsby, and her husband, Joe Grigsby, found out months ago they would be having their first child.
True to form, Gilner grew the beard again.
"I thought what the heck," Andy said. "I did it with my own three children.
"I thought I'd do it for our first grandchild."
Grigsby said she talked with her husband about him carrying on the tradition and growing a beard.
"I know Dad would have given him trouble about it," Grigsby said jokingly.
Her father didn't tell her right away that he was going to grow the beard, but eventually Grigsby realized he was repeating history.
On Oct. 18, Grigsby gave birth to a daughter, Lilly Bea, who weighed 6 pounds, 4 ounces, and was 19 1/2 inches long. She was welcomed home by her half-sister, Kaihtlyn.
With his own three children, Gilner shaved off the beard and the clippings were put in a bag with each child's baby book.
This time, he'll hold off a little longer to shave that snow white beard.
He has been asked to keep it intact. With the holiday season approaching, he's received requests to make the beard part of his recurring role as Santa Claus.
"Yeah, it seems like I've got bookings," Gilner said. "It needs to be a little bit longer, so we might need to go back to the false one (Santa Claus beard) a little bit."
When he's finished with that gig this December, the beard will be shaved and the whiskers put in a plastic bag for Lilly.
"So she's going to get quite a chunk from Dad for her baby book," Grigsby said. "It's kind of cute and kind of funny. It's just Dad. And now it's Grandpa."
Grigsby noted that her father, who is a longtime Tonganoxie High School social science teacher, has been known to tickle his granddaughter with his beard.
"It's the same thing he did with us," Grigsby said. "We remember Dad tickling us with the beard.
"Now it's kind of cute to see him do that with her. She likes when Grandpa comes to visit after school."
Grandpa said he thought Lilly was receptive to his beard.
"Oh she plays with it," Gilner said. "She kind of reaches for it and grabs it. She's only 3 weeks old, but she knows it's there I think."
Instead of nine months of beard growth, Gilner only had about four months for Lilly.
Interestingly enough, he thought that perhaps his son-in-law was going to grow one.
And instead of sandy brown hair that was left for his children, Gilner's granddaughter will have white hair in her baby book.
It appears as though the tradition might continue for future grandchildren also.
"I guess if she has another one, I might have to do it again," Gilner said. "I don't know."