Ways to Celebrate Grandparents on Grandparents Day!
Marian McQuade of West Virginia began with the simple idea of supporting the elderly in nursing homes, and ended with a national holiday, Grandparents Day. Declared a national holiday by President Carter in 1978, it is celebrated every year on the first Sunday after Labor Day. September was chosen as it represents “the autumn years” of one’s life.
More than 56 million grandparents now reside in the United States. A full 5.7 million live with their grandchildren. For all families, Grandparents Day presents an opportunity to tap into the wisdom and heritage that older relatives provide—an especially rich resource for our children. McQuade’s goal was to create a day to honor grandparents and give them a chance to show their love for their grandchildren. She also hoped children would learn the value of their grandparent’s strength and guidance, and return that message of love. For children whose grandparents have passed away, they can be encouraged to offer their kindness to other elderly people, especially those who reside in nursing homes.
The ways to celebrate this holiday are limited only by one’s imagination. Try a few of these ideas, and maybe you’ll want to start a yearly tradition of your own.
- Invite grandparents over to play a favorite board game from their youth.
- Have the whole family cook a few of Grandma’s favorite recipes together. Of course, she will enjoy supervising and teaching!
- Take grandparents to visit the houses where they grew up, or some other memorable spots.
- Compile a playlist of songs from their youth, adding a few of your children’s favorite songs as well.
- Host a family reunion, inviting a few local relatives or dozens of distant relations.
- Create a book or poster titled, “Why We Love Grandpa.” Have the kids list their many reasons, and add colorful illustrations.
- Create a family tree together. Be sure to bring out the grandparents’ photographs, so that the kids can put a face with a name. It’s also a great time to jot names, dates and notes on the backs of the pictures.
- Ask the grandparent for a lesson on their favorite hobby. Your family can spend the day learning to knit with grandma, or fish with grandpa.
- Give the grandparent a homemade “coupon book” from the entire family. The coupons may include help with chores, places you’ll take them to visit, or activities you’ll plan to do together.
- Watch the grandparents’ favorite movie together as a family.
- Have your children write a story, featuring the grandparent as the main character, complete with illustrations.
- Create a set of placemats using old and new photos of the grandparent, along with their children and grandchildren.
The official flower of the holiday is appropriately the “Forget-Me-Not.” This year let’s all honor those who paved the way for us, and let us never forget them.
Linda Kastiel Kozlowski is a freelance writer based in Chicago.