I can still remember Grandma and Papa picking me up from school. We would order ice cream or go see a movie, but not before I showed them all my school projects and introduced them to all my teachers and friends. I never knew how much those memories would mean to me. I had no idea then that Grandparents Day would continue to hold such a special place in my heart many years later. Granted my school’s celebration of the holiday was always a few days early (given the holiday is always the first Sunday after Labor Day), but the logistics didn’t matter. What mattered was that I spent time with Grandma and Papa.
A Brief History:
Grandparents Day has been a secular US holiday for the past thirty-seven years, since 1979. It was founded thanks to Marian McQuade. Marian “made it her goal to educate the youth in the community about the important contributions seniors have made throughout history.” She campaigned nationwide for a day to be set aside specifically for grandparents, and “in September 1978 the White House called her to inform her that President Carter had signed a bill designating the Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day beginning in 1979.”
What do your grandparents mean to you? To me they represent the wisdom and fortitude of past generations, a window into the childhood of my parents, and a source of undying love and guidance. Grandparents are important, not only because of their love, but also because of the intergenerational bond that builds bridges from the past to the future. Both grandparent and grandchild learn from each other. Grandchildren learn lessons of experiences not yet had. Grandparents are refreshed by pure expressions of youthful innocence while also learning of the effects of generational gaps in time. I hope this bond never ceases to exist as being important in our society.
I even think back to the days in grade school where the middle school kids would visit younger classes and intermingle through drawing and reading books. Even those few years in age-difference were important for building those same bridges. These interactions were not intergenerational, but the same principal stood true, that children older and younger would come together and learn from each other.
The Nature of Love & Grandparents
Love has a paradoxical relationship with its own appreciation. When we are young we experience life and love so intensely in every moment without any mental appreciation of its significance. Phrases like “I love you Papa!” or “I missed you Grandma!” need no preparation. It is not until life has dealt us a few hands, some favorable and some not, that we can wrap our minds around how important relationships with grandparents really are.
I am thankful for the fortune of knowing my grandparents for the past 23 years and witnessing how my relationship with them has grown over time. No matter how many memories we may or may not have with our grandparents, the memories we hold onto are likely to be deeply ingrained into the very foundation that constitutes us as human beings.
What We Can Do
If you are a grandchild:
This Sunday, September 13, take some time out of your day to acknowledge your grandparents in whatever way works best for you. Just do it! Pick up the phone, write them a letter, give them something special, video chat with them so they can see your lovely face, or visit them if you are able! Change your Facebook photo to your favorite photo with your grandparent(s), and don’t be afraid to brag about how cool they are because it is up to us on an individual level to keep the bond between grandparent and grandchild going. After all, you may be a grandparent someday.
If you are a grandparent:
YOU ROCK! Sunday September 13th is your day. Pull out the photo albums if you have them. Don’t be afraid to give your grandkids a call just to say hello; believe me, they will appreciate it even if they have a hard time communicating it.
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