How to Celebrate National Grandparents Day

With silver in their hair and gold in their hearts, grandparents are certainly a treasure. It’s no wonder that many people have such a special relationship with their grandmothers and grandfathers. The love, wisdom and encouragement they share with their grandchildren through the years only makes the bond grow stronger.

Of course, any day of the year is an opportune time to show your gratitude and let them know how much they mean to you. But there is one day in particular that should not be overlooked: National Grandparents Day.

Most of us know Mother’s Day is in the spring every year and Father’s Day shows up in the summer, but perhaps National Grandparents Day is not on your radar. It may be a lesser-known holiday, but it has an interesting history. And because it’s coming up soon, we thought we could share that story with you and provide a few helpful suggestions on how to thoughtfully mark the occasion. Please enjoy How to Celebrate National Grandparents Day.

A Few Facts About Grandparents

In 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that there were around 70 million grandparents living in the United States. This number continues to grow as the general population ages.

In 2023, the average age of grandparents living in the U.S. was 67. And while it’s true that grandparenthood is most common for those over 65, the median age is trending down as more couples are beginning to start families earlier in life.

There is also a considerable number of children who live in the same home as their grandparents. Often this is a result of families moving a grandparent into their house to help with childcare or for the family to aid the grandparent who might also need extra care.

One would think that with so many grandparents around, the United States would have established a recognized day to honor them long ago. But the fact of the matter is, National Grandparents Day is a relatively new holiday. Let’s take a brief look at the evolution of this passionate initiative to celebrate this special group of the young at heart.

The History of National Grandparents Day

It all started with a letter. A letter written by a 9-year-old boy with a fervent love for his grandparents. In 1969, Russell Capper wrote to the President of the United States, Richard Nixon, suggesting grandparents have their own special day, comparable to Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

Unfortunately, though the President’s personal secretary, Rose Mary Woods, did write back, it was only to inform young Russell that special observances like a holiday for grandparents were not typically issued by the President unless compelled by a congressional resolution. While there is no record of Russell Capper’s feelings about the response he received, it’s more than likely he was disappointed. It would take 8 more years before National Grandparents Day would become a reality. Here’s how we got there:

1. 1971 – West Virginia native Marian McQuade, who had 15 children and 43 grandchildren, was elected Vice-Chair of the West Virginia Committee on Aging and subsequently appointed as a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging. At this time, McQuade had already been campaigning in her home state to have an official day for grandparents.

2. 1972 – As a result of Mrs. McQuade’s campaign and work with the elderly, President Nixon proclaimed a National Shut-In Day to bring hope and encouragement to those who are unable to leave their home due to physical and mental health issues.

3. 1973 – After working tirelessly with civic, business, church and political leaders in her West Virginia, an annual Grandparents Day became official in McQuade’s home state, proclaimed by Governor Arch Moore.

4. 1973-1975 – For 3 years, McQuade organized supporters and contacted governors, senators and congressmen in all 50 states, petitioning them to institute Grandparents Day. By 1975, she had received proclamations from 43 of those states.

5. 1977 – Senator Jennings Randolph of West Virginia, with the support of many other senators, introduced a joint proclamation to senate, requesting that the President make Grandparents Day an official and national holiday.

6. 1978 – President Jimmy Carter signs Senator Randolph’s proclamation, designating the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day, observed annually.

The Purpose of National Grandparents Day

Though she is now known as the mother of National Grandparents Day, Marian McQuade did not start her journey to achieve public recognition. A mother and a grandmother, her motives were purely philanthropic and motivated by her love and passion for the elderly. She had 3 distinct purposes in mind:

1. To have one set day a year to honor grandparents.

2. To give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children.

3. To create an awareness of the wisdom, information and guidance the elderly have to share.

Great Ways to Celebrate the Day

Now that you have a better understanding on the holiday, we should let you know that in 2023, National Grandparents Day will be celebrated on Sunday, September 10. Do you have any plans yet? If you’re just now finding out about the occasion, check out these 7 easy ways to make the day meaningful.

1. Plan a family gathering like a dinner or special visit, especially if you can take your grandparents to their favorite eatery or some place they used to take you to.

2. Give one of the unique grandma gifts available from The Bradford Exchange. Don’t forget we have gifts for grandpa too!

3. Build new memories by taking some family photos together or take a walk down memory lane by looking at photographs from the past.

4. Share a hobby together. Perhaps grandma enjoys birdwatching, gardening, or doing the crossword puzzle. Maybe grandpa likes to tinker in the garage or play golf. Doing the things that bring them joy with them can connect you in a whole new way.

5. Start a new tradition. Plan an annual walk along the beach or in the park or local gardens. Sign up for art classes you can take together every week or month. You could even all get matching shirts and decide that you will wear them out once a year. Having a regularly scheduled activity or event gives everyone something to look forward to.

6. Get nostalgic. Take grandma and grandpa somewhere they used to go when they were a kid. Or even when you were a kid. Those happy places that perhaps neither of you have seen in years. Seeing those places again and reliving the nostalgia of the past is sure to bring a smile to their face and a happy tear to their eyes.

7. Ask your grandparents about themselves. You will be surprised what you find out. Most grandparents have lived very full lives and have so much to share about their past. They just don’t often get the opportunity. A few simple questions show your interest and lets them to tell you stories that can be preserved in your family’s history.

Well, wasn’t that just grand! We trust today’s post was interesting, enjoyable and helpful, especially as September 10 is just around the corner. If you get to see your grandparents for the occasion this year, we certainly hope your time is memorable.

If you cannot pay them an in-person visit this year, you can always shop our gifts for grandparents and surprise them with a treat delivered right to their door. And if any of your grandparents had to say goodbye too soon, remember to take a moment to honor their memory and reflect on how important they were to you. It’s the perfect occasion to do so.

Thanks so much for reading and we hope you have a great National Grandparents Day- whether you are a grandparent or a grandchild!

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