Grandparents Day falls on the Sunday after Labor Day as decreed in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter in the United States. Marian McQuade of West Virginia started the movement that quickly gained favor across the country (and eventually in 15 countries worldwide) and planted the initial seeds of Grandparents Day in a grassroots movement. It is a secular holiday celebrated in the US annually. This year, it will be celebrated on September 13, 2015.
According to the Legacy Project website, Grandparents Day has three purposes:
1. To honor grandparents.
2. To give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their grandchildren.
3. To help children become aware of the strength, information and guidance older people can offer.
The goal of Marian Mcquade was to create an official day to celebrate families. It has also become a day where we honor our elders and family histories. While on its own, this holiday isn’t as big a merchandiser as Mother’s day or even Father’s Day, it was never meant to be. The intent was a lot more wholesome and precious than to be another retail holiday.
Since Grandparents Day isn’t about gifts, there is opportunity instead to be together and do things as a family. Here’s how you can celebrate the day:
1. Get the kids involved
Young kids especially love to create and give those creations to people they love. Bring out the art supplies and create cards, scrapbooks, photo collages, and personal artwork that is meant to celebrate how much their grandparents mean to them. There isn’t a grandparent alive that will not melt upon receiving something so well thought out and meaningful as what their grandchildren can conjure up.
2. Spend the day together
You don’t have to plan anything extravagant or expensive. Cook dinner at the grandparents’ home, bring over their favorite movie, or go to the park with the kids. Find ways to appreciate them that aren’t contrived and come from the heart.
3. Find a local event
Many schools in the week leading up to the day have events planned for the kids to do with their grandparents during school hours. Look into options your town may have. There are concert in the park events, activities at the library, or even non-holiday specific things to do. Ask what the grandparents enjoy and see if that activity is going on that day.
4. Adopt a Grandparent Program
Unfortunately, there are many people in assisted living or nursing homes who just don’t get visits from family. There are also many children whose grandparents have passed or don’t live nearby. Get involved in the Adopt a Grandparent program for the kids and elderly to get together and enjoy each other by reading stories, doing arts and crafts, or playing music together. There is something so heartwarming about the smiles that come about on several different generations of people interacting and enjoying each other.
Enjoying family time together on Grandparents Day is a great way to remind people of the importance of maintaining relationships. Getting together for activities also instills in children the importance of their elders and the respect they deserve for the lives they’ve had. While Grandparents Day is a good place to start, the sentiment needs to carry on all year long. The holiday just needs to serve as a reminder to us all how important it is to have strong family bonds in our lives.