How You Can Celebrate Grandparents Day

By Michelle Cemental

"Grandparents are our continuing tie to the near-past, to the events and beliefs and experiences that so strongly affect our lives and the world around us." says Mrs. McQuade, one of the advocates for Grandparents Day. This holiday gives families the opportunity to celebrate their grandparents. How will you and your family be spending Grandparents Day? Here is additional information about Grandparents Day with some ideas on how to spend it. 

History of Grandparents Day 

Grandparents Day was initially requested in 1969, when a 9-year-old named Russell Capper sent a letter to President Nixon. He asked if the president could set aside a special day to celebrate grandparents. However, the child’s inquiry was met with a letter from Rose Mary Woods, the personal secretary to the president, that said, 

“Dear Russell,

Thank you for your letter to President Nixon. Your suggestion regarding a Grandparent’s Day is appreciated, but the President ordinarily issues proclamations designating periods of time for special observance only when a Congressional resolution authorizes him to do so.

With best wishes,

Sincerely, Rose Mary Woods.” 

But the efforts to declare Grandparents Day didn’t stop there. In the 1970s, Marian McQuade organized a community celebration for seniors over 80 in West Virginia. During her preparations, she realized that there were many nursing home residents who didn't have family in the area. She wanted to bring attention to those individuals and help them feel honored and appreciated. McQuade started a campaign to gain support for the holiday to recognize grandparents.  

McQuade served on the West Virginia Commission on Aging and the Nursing Home Licensing Board. Her influence led West Virginia to declare Grandparents Day an annual holiday in 1973. Over the next few years, McQuade continued to push for national recognition until it was proclaimed a national holiday by President Jimmy Carter in 1978. 

Ultimately, the purpose of this day is to encourage families to visit with older family members. It’s a time for grandparents to tell their stories and share their hopes for the future. It helps honor grandparents and provide them the opportunity to share their love with their children. Each year, grandparents and children should take the time to appreciate their elders and realize the guidance and strength they can offer. 

Grandparents Day Fun Facts 

You might be surprised to know these fun facts about Grandparents Day.  

  • The official flower of Grandparents Day is the forget-me-not 
  • There is an official song for this holiday: “A Song for Grandma and Grandpa” by Johnny Prill 
  • Many other countries have also declared a Grandparents Day to honor aging loved ones, including Australia, Brazil, and Mexico 
  • The average age of grandparents in the US is 50 years old 
  • On average, grandparents have 4 to 5 grandchildren 
  • Grandparents spend around $2,500 each year on their grandchildren 
  • 1 in 10 grandparents live in the same household as their grandchildren 
  • 5% of grandparents are the primary caregivers for their grandchildren 
  • Distance is the biggest barrier for grandparents seeing their grandchildren 
  • Grandparents Day is the day that nursing homes see the most visitors 

Grandparents Day Activities 

Celebrating your grandparents is a beautiful thing, and there are so many ways to do it! It's a great time to pull out the board games and the knitting needles and pull your grandparent close. Here are some Grandparents Day activities that the whole family can enjoy. 

1. Plan a Visit

If your grandparent lives away from home, make the effort to go visit them on Grandparents Day. Bring along something for you both to do, like games or a good book you can read to them. Seeing your face will most likely be all they really need to make their day special. 

If you don’t live near your grandparents, utilize technology to talk with them. Give them a call or host a video chat with the family. This can be a great way to connect when you can’t be there to celebrate in person. 

2. Have a Picnic

These days, it's likely your grandma or grandpa doesn't get much time outside, so grab the picnic basket and throw in some food favorites. Bring a blanket and an activity you know they'll love—kite flying or a game of chess.  

3. Plant a Garden

If your grandparent has a green thumb, get some gardening tools and help them start that garden they've been itching to grow. You can start growing herbs, vegetables, and fruit, or simply plant flowers if that's what they'd prefer. They may already have a garden of their own, but you can help them with weeding, fertilizing, watering, and more. 

4. Host a Movie Night

Grab a family favorite, pop some popcorn and gather around the big screen for an extra special movie night. Let your grandparents pick out their favorite movie to make them feel special. Need some movie ideas: check these out! 

5. Bake a Special Treat

If you've got a sweet tooth you could've only gotten from grandma or grandpa, have them over to bake a family favorite, such as cookies, brownies, or rice cereal treats. You'll be sure to warm their hearts as well as your belly. Take this time to learn how to make family classics that you can pass down to your kids as well. 

6. Give a Gift

You can also show your grandparents how much you appreciate them by presenting them a special gift. This could be something handmade, a bouquet of flowers, a trip to a show, etc. You know your grandparents best, so follow your instincts about what they will appreciate. 

7. Learn More About Them

Grandparents have a wealth of knowledge and experience. Use Grandparents Day to ask them about their personal experiences, favorite childhood memories, etc. Talk to them about areas in your life where you could use some advice. Just talking with them can be meaningful for both of you.  

Grandparents Day is a great time to show your loved ones how much you love them and appreciate them. However you choose to celebrate this holiday, just express how much you care about your grandparents.   


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Tags: Senior Living