The history of National Grandparent’s Day and ideas for grandparent celebrations

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By: Jay GormanCC BY 2.0
If you live in the United States you know how we just looooooove to make holidays for everyone, and September 8 is yet another: it’s National Grandparent’s Day! I’m a big fan of celebrating just about anything and anyone, so I’m totally on the Grandparent’s Day train. While looking around for cute ideas for stuff my kid could do for his long-distance grandparents, I realized I don’t know ANYTHING about the origins of the day. Anyone up for a history lesson/craft party? Let’s do it.

What Grandparent’s Day is all about

The idea for Grandparent’s Day was originated by Marian McQuade from West Virginia. Originally, she was scheming a way for lonely elderly in nursing homes and retirement communities to have a nice day, and thought the day could double as a way for grandchildren to make a special point to sit with their grandparents and exchange ideas, memories, and general familial heritage.

President Jimmy Carter declared the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparent’s Day in 1978, and boom: a holiday was born.

Ideas for celebrations

There are actually a lot of resources for those looking for a meaningful way to celebrate Grandparent’s Day. Here are a few that I especially liked:

Compile your grandparent’s life story
This website has a free template you can download to help put together the life story of an individual. You could spin this a lot of ways: homeschooling families could incorporate constructing a life story in conjunction with a history lesson. The template could be modified to be preschooler-friendly and young kids could ask their grandparents their own questions. Kids in elementary, middle and high school could use this as a way to find out stuff about their grandparents that they might never have thought to ask about — and adults can use this as a gentle and easy way to connect with aging parents. Guys, the potential emotions!

Volunteer in the Forget-Me-Not program
I’m always a champion of volunteering, and the Forget-Me-Not program asks youth groups (Girl/Boy Scouts, synagogue groups, churches, junior high school groups, etc) to “adopt” a nearby facility. The kiddos visit the elderly and aging residents — time is an invaluable gift. Volunteers can also be nominated for awards.

Color Grandpa and Grandma (or Grandma and Grandma, and so on)
You can print out these templates and have your kiddos color Grandpa and Grandma. They’re not the most non-white-family-friendly images, but with the right crayons you can probably make it work!

How are you celebrating Grandparent’s Day next week?

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