Nothing awakens every one of our five senses like thoughts and conversations about our grandparents. Perhaps we remember helping Grandma make cookies or bouncing on Grandpa’s knee. A family’s most precious stories are told with charm and wit as recited by silver-haired grandparents with hearts of gold. Through family gatherings, family traditions of our heritage and culture get passed down to future generations. Our grandparents and great grandparents are the links to our national heritage and traditions. These celebrations paved the way for Grandparents Day.
What is it that makes grandparents so special in our hearts? Most people would say that it’s not the gifts they gave or the money they had. The grandest gift of all is the gift of a relationship between a grandparent and grandchild.
What is the History of Grandparents Day?
Marian Lucille Herndon McQuade loved being a daughter and granddaughter. She held fond memories of greeting her grandmother after her return from a hard day’s’ work and accompanying her as she visited lonely older adults in their community. Like her beloved grandmother, Marian had a caring and nurturing spirit. These special visits and her grandmother’s dedication kindled a love and respect for the senior generation that would remain with her for a lifetime.
Though Marian considered herself to be nothing more than a housewife, others occasionally caught glimpses of her free-spirited and feisty side. These qualities became her biggest assets when she hit on the spark of an idea to create National Grandparents Day. In 1970, Marian set out to enlist the help of civic, business, church and political leaders to launch the first Grandparents Day in her home state of West Virginia. Then, Marian pursued Congress to proclaim a National Grandparents Day. Her tenacity proved fruitful when President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day. September is significant because it represents the “autumn season” of life.
Marian’s feistiness once again became apparent as she was quite vocal about the fact that she didn’t want retailers to take over the holiday by over commercializing it.
Marian emphasized the three purposes of Grandparents Day:
- To honor grandparents.
- To give grandparents a chance to show love for their children’s children.
- To help children become aware of the strength, information, and guidance that older adults offer.
The legacy of Marian McQuade is for everyone old and young to embrace the fundamental spirit and true intent of National Grandparents Day as a family day. It’s time for small, private family gatherings or larger family reunions, where the focus is on spending time making memories together. It’s also an occasion for communities to come together to honor and celebrate older adults in communities and those who care for them.
Marian carried on the spirit of her grandmother and closed the generation gap as she spent many National Grandparents Day celebrations with her 15 children, 43 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great grandchild, before her passing in 2008.
Grandparents Day Fun Facts
You may be interested to know that there are over 7 million grandparents in the United States. About 68% of them say that being a grandparent has brought them closer to their children. If you’ve been wondering why grandparents are so sweet, about 86% of grandparents boasted that they enjoy baking cookies with their grandchildren.
Special Gift Ideas for Grandparents
If you’re searching for special gift ideas for grandparents to celebrate the occasion, keep the spirit of the day in mind, and give gifts that encourage spending time together.
Take a little inspiration from Rudolph Giuliani, who said, “What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies.” Use National Grandparents Day as an opportunity to give back to grandparents the gifts of love that they freely give to their grandchildren every time they see them.
Choose gifts with personal meaning. An especially nice idea is to present them with a book that guides them in writing their life stories. Encourage them to complete it so that it can be passed down to future generations.
Grandparents love anything that their grandchildren made, even if it’s just a homemade card or page from a coloring book. Frame some photos of the grandchildren or create a calendar with seasonal photos of the grandkids.
Another simple idea is to put together Cookies in a Jar, complete with the fixin’s for cookie dough, nuts, candies, or chocolate chips. Grandparents can keep it handy and enjoy a baking activity when grandchildren come to visit.
Grandparents enjoy reading to their grandchildren, so think about a child’s book or series of books that they can read to their grandkids.
No matter your choice, grandparents are sure to appreciate the sentiment and enjoy the opportunity for a little more family time on National Grandparents Day.