Granddaughter visiting grand-parents in senior home

Marian McQuade from West Virginia, started with the simple idea of supporting the elderly in nursing homes and ended with a new holiday, Grandparents Day. Declared a national holiday by President Carter in 1978, it is now celebrated every year on the first Sunday after Labor Day.

Over 56 million grandparents now reside in the United States. A full 5.7 million of them reside with their grandchildren. For all families, Grandparent’s Day presents an opportunity to tap into the wisdom and heritage that older relatives provide. Grandparents can be an especially rich resource our children. Marian’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 that 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 that 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, Grandma will enjoy supervising and teaching!

+ Take the grandparent to visit the house where they grew up, or some other memorable spot.

+ Compile a CD of songs from the grandparent’s youth, adding a few of your children’s favorite songs as well.

+ Host, a family reunion, inviting only 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.

As a child, Marian McQuade would visit her grandmother on her 130-acre farm. They’d work during the day, and spend their evenings visiting the elderly in town. She grew up to be blessed with 15 children, over 40 grandchildren and eight great-grandkids. The official flower of the holiday is appropriately the “Forget-Me-Not”. This year let’s all honor those that paved the way for us and let us not ever forget.