By Jenna-Lee Neff
id you know that grandparents have their very own day? Typically the first Sunday after Labor Day, National Grandparents Day honors the special bond created between grandparents and their grandchildren, and encourages families to celebrate the love between the generations. This year, the special day is Sunday, September 12.
Grandparents Day began when Marian McQuade envisioned a holiday that would encourage children to visit their grandparents and other aging adults. Around the age of 40, McQuade began organizing an annual “Past 80” party in Richwood, West Virginia, and she spent much of her free time visiting residents of nursing homes, organizing exercise groups and craft classes for the elderly, and helping residents record their precious family recipes so they wouldn’t be lost to time. McQuade took her vision of the grandparent holiday and introduced it to politicians near and far. Eventually it was made official national holiday in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter.
Whether your grandparents are near or far, we’ve put together tips on how you can make priceless memories this Grandparents Day.
Here are five ways to spend the day with the grandparents in your life:
• Have a sleepover: Many grandparents want to spend more time with their grandkids, so pack up the family and stay the night if grandma and grandpa are up for it.
• Ask them to show you their hobby: Chances are your grandparent has an interest vastly different from your own; show them you want to know more by asking them to share their hobby and help you learn.
• Create crafty memories: Work on a project together. You could work on a special painting, make a well-loved recipe, or tie-dye T-shirts together.
• Go on an adventure: Ask your grandparent to share some of their favorite places with you and make arrangements for a day and a time to go see them.
• Take some of the household work off their plate: Whether it’s cleaning up an overgrown garden, taking out the trash, or taking care of their next grocery trip for them, you can show your love by taking something off their to-do list.
Maybe the grandparents in your life live out of town or out of state. Or maybe they continue to social distance in the wake of the COVID-19 Delta variant. Whatever the case may be, here are five ways to celebrate the day without being face-to-face:
• Pick up the phone or the iPad: Surprise grandparents with a much-needed phone call or a virtual visit on FaceTime or Zoom.
• Write a letter: Let grandma and grandpa know you are thinking about them with a hand-written note.
• Ask them to share a story: Next time you connect, ask grandparents to share stories from their childhood.
• Send them something sweet: Whether it’s flowers for grandma or grandpa’s favorite candies, a small gift let’s them know you’re thinking of them.
• Make a photo book: Don’t let distance cut them out. Making a photo book is a great way to share memories in a format they can enjoy over and over again.
If your grandparents have passed, here are
three ways you can still honor them for Grandparents Day:
• Share a fond memory of them with friends or family.
• Take a break from the day and go do something you used to do together.
• Keep their memory alive by writing down stories about your grandparents for future generations.
If you don’t have grandparents in your life, you can still make this day special for an aging adult. There are many seniors who have no grandchildren, and some who have no immediate family at all. ‘Adopt’ a senior in your community and get to know them. They have plenty of love and wisdom to share. Many cities and nonprofits have official Adopt A Senior programs, too.
We all know how important it is for kids to make memories with the older generation. The sharing of traditions, history and strengthening a supportive familial bond can influence children throughout their lives. The tips on this list can help make a positive impact in the life of an aging adult, and set the groundwork for an annual family celebration for years to come.
Jenna-Lee Neff is a freelance journalist, digital audience analyst, and public relations professional. Learn more about her work at jennaleeneff.com.