Celebrating Grandparents

There’s Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, but did you know there is also a day dedicated to honoring grandparents? Grandparents Day is a national holiday designed to do just that. This year, we’ll celebrate grandma and grandpa on Sunday, September 10th. The history of the day goes back to the 1970s, and there are a few stories as to how this day came about.

The first Grandparents Day was celebrated in Poland in 1965. In the United States, there are two theories as to how the day was created. Some people think the idea was first proposed by Michael Goldgar. After visiting his aunt in an Atlanta nursing home, he learned most of the residents were grandparents. He soon realized, while living independently in the nursing home, the grandparents were still the main core of the family, and they needed to be honored. Goldgar spent $11,000 of his own money in lobbying efforts and made 17 trips to Washington D.C. over seven years to meet with legislators and have the day officially recognized.

Another, more common, story about the beginning of Grandparents Day is about Marian Lucille Herndon McQuade. McQuade was a housewife in West Virginia and worked to educate people about the contributions senior citizens make to the community. In 1970, McQuade started a campaign to create a day to honor grandparents. Through working with civic, business, church, and political leaders, she launched the first Grandparents Day in her home state in 1973. Then, in 1979, her efforts reached President Jimmy Carter, who proclaimed the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day. Since then, the day has grown in popularity throughout the world. In 1995, Canada held their first Grandparents Day and Singapore started the holiday in 1979. The United Kingdom first introduced the day in 1990.

Grandparents Day has three purposes: to honor grandparents, to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children, and to help children become aware of the strength, information, and guidance older people can offer. The holiday also has an official flower, the forget-me-not, and an official song, A Song for Grandma and Grandpa by Johnny Prill. A great idea for honoring your grandparents is to record their stories. Interview your grandparents about their childhood, marriage, and other moments in life. Write down their recollections and use your phone or a recording device to capture them talking. Stuck on what questions to ask? Think about what you want to know about them and what future generations should know. Questions can include: Where did you grow up? How did you and grandpa/grandma meet? What were your parents like? What was my mom/dad like growing up? Asking different types of questions gives you a chance to get to really know your grandparents and their history. When done with the interview, turn your findings into a legacy book. In addition to your writing, add pictures of your grandparents for you and future generations to enjoy. You can give the legacy book as a gift to your grandparents.

Another idea is creating a special card, poem, or picture for your grandma and grandpa. Personalize your creations and write your favorite things about your grandparents, like what you like to do with them, why you love them, etc. One of the most important things you can do during the day is to visit your grandparents. Play games, read books, go on walks, do arts and crafts – however you enjoy spending time with them. You and your family could also go back to your grandparents’ hometown or another special place. This gives them a chance to talk about their lives and important events.

Grandparents Day was created to honor grandparents. On September 10th, remember to take the time and visit your grandparents and tell them how much they mean to you. You’ll be happy you did.