By Randee Bloom, RN, MBA PhD
As a Grandmother of three little boys, I consider every day is Grandparents Day. So, why is it important to have a “special day”, an annual holiday, known as Grandparents Day? Once I learned about the history of this day, I understood why it’s so important to celebrate it and then researched ways to enjoy it with my grandkids.
History of Grandparents Day
Believe it or not, the foundation for the celebratory day came from a 9-year old, Russell Capper, in 1969. This child wrote to then President Richard Nixon, asking for a dedicated day to celebrate and honor grandparents. Several other citizens joined this advocacy effort and in 1978, then President Jimmy Carter signed the proclamation. National Grandparents Day, to be celebrated on the first Sunday after Labor Day, was first celebrated in 1979.
This year, Grandparents Day will be celebrated Sunday, Sept. 12.
The proclamation, establishing National Grandparents Day stated three distinct purposes:
- To honor grandparents;
- To give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children;
- To help children become aware of strength, information and guidance older people can offer.
Our Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are each written with apostrophes, while Grandparents Day is officially not. Researchers site the advocate Marian McQuade as envisioning the celebration not of one just for the Grandparent but rather the connection to grandparents.
Ideas for Celebrating Grandparents Day:
As a Family Day
How about arranging for a casual gathering, in person and virtual, making sure that those you wish to honor and hopefully wish to honor you back are in attendance. The simplicity of this idea honors the core tenant of the holiday’s design.
Plant a Tree (no need for water)
Think Family Tree. Consider drawing the obvious tree with branches and fill in the names and details of as many past and present generations that you can. Your kids may help with small pictures of these treasured family members. Your grandchildren will enjoy learning how their lives are different and surprisingly the same in many ways, too.
Volunteer service offers opportunities to contribute to the welfare and benefit of the recipient. Consider, as well, the benefit to the doer. And in this specific case, the relationship between doers. Grandparents and grandchildren can explore local opportunities to serve together, within their individual physical limitations and developed shared interests. Additional opportunities are available for more stay-near-home and do-it-yourself projects suggested by AARP, all with this one goal in common. Serving others while bonding together.
Document Your History
Consider how you can tell your grandchildren your life’s story, and create a lasting document. In addition to writing the story, how about an oral presentation? You can add your own expressions and emotions that are sure to capture your personality and further leave your legacy. One easy way is to use a new innovative video book product like Heirloom where after a few quick minutes on your computer or smartphone your videos are sent in a physical book to your loved ones, and treasured.
Pass on the Love of a Hobby
Your grandchildren may know you love to knit, especially every night when their snuggle under your handmade blankets. But, do they know about some other of your hobbies or special skills? Maybe you are an “expert” playing card shuffler, magician, baseball catcher or pianist. Our grandchildren not only can learn a lot from us but usually want to. There is so much good that can happen and last a lifetime.
Create a Time Capsule
Families can work together throughout the year collecting items or writing down stories they want to include in next years’ time capsule. Begin the project this year and enjoy all the shared surprises. And make a plan for when the capsule, maybe just “buried” in your closet, will be opened and shared.
The celebration of every holiday has one thing in common: the opportunity to pause from our daily lives’ tasks and responsibilities and focus. Grandparents Day offers this opportunity with the focus being both inward and around us. Consider this opportunity and make your own traditions and meaningful memories that can last many lifetimes.