You might be thinking that Grandparents Day, celebrated on September 8th, 2019, is just another Hallmark holiday. A day that was created to bring in more profits to florists, greeting card companies, and gift shops. I honestly used to think the same. However, there is a much deeper history of how Grandparents Day came to be and an even better reason to celebrate it each year.
A Little History of National Grandparents Day
The initial idea for Grandparents Day started back in 1956 with Marian McQuade. She wanted a dedicated day where families could celebrate their grandparents privately, but also a day where the public could recognize the importance of grandparents and how they play a vital role not only within each individual family but also in the history of our country. It would also be a day where grandparents themselves could show love and appreciation for the younger generations.
After many years of working towards her dream, Marian’s bigger goal finally came to fruition. In 1979 President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day. The proclamation reads:
As we seek to strengthen the enduring values of the family, it is appropriate that we honor our grandparents.
Grandparents are our continuing tie to the near-past, to the events and beliefs and experiences that so strongly affect our lives and the world around us.
Presents are nice, but try to stick with the original meaning of the holiday and focus on the love and time spent with each other rather than putting a monetary value on it. The purpose of the day is not only to celebrate grandparents but also for grandparents to celebrate their grandchildren. It allows children to realize the importance of spending time with their grandparents and perhaps learn some family history while doing so. The world that ours and our children’s grandparents grew up in is vastly different from the one we know today, so the day provides a great opportunity to get them asking questions.
Grandparents are a wealth of information so one way to celebrate is to encourage your children to bring a notebook, ask a few questions (see below for ideas!) then write down the answers so you can keep them to share with future generations.
1. Were you named after a family member?
2. Where were you born?
3. What was life like when you were a child? How did you spend family time? What was your home like?
4. How did you meet grandma/grandpa?
5. Have you ever traveled? If so, where and what was your favorite place?
6. What is different about today’s world than when you were a child?
7. What is your favorite thing about being a grandparent?
It is also important for grandparents to celebrate their grandchildren. Grandparents should seize the opportunity to share their love for their grandchildren by sharing some of their favorite stories of times they have spent together, as well as sharing some family traditions that they would love to see their grandchildren carry on through future generations.
How to Celebrate
Grandparents Day doesn’t require a huge celebration. A simple family meal shared around the table that allows everyone to be together would be perfect enough! You can make it a bigger family affair by using the day as a chance to reunite with relatives near and far. Encourage family members to bring photo albums/photos and stories to share. You could also make it less formal and spend the time hanging out playing board games or card games. My grandmother and I always played ‘Old Maid’ anytime we saw each other and it is a memory I will cherish forever.
Don’t live close enough to your grandparents to get together physically to celebrate? Schedule a prolonged FaceTime date and catch-up that way. Have your children share recent art projects and discuss their current likes and what they enjoy doing. You can still ask questions and use those as talking points!
For those that might not get the chance to spend the day with their grandparents, or who might not have a relationship with them, visiting a local nursing home is a great alternative way to spend the day. There are many people whose family does not live close or might not have any remaining family that would love to see some new faces to talk to. Call ahead to make sure they are accepting visitors and maybe ask about bringing a few treats for the residents!