As a nationally recognised holiday in the USA, Grandparents Day has been well established across the pond for decades now. Yet over here, it is only just starting to take off. With its popularity steadily growing, here we consider, do we really need a Grandparents Day?
The history of Grandparents Day
In America, National Grandparents Day was proclaimed in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter following a nationwide campaign led by Marian McQuade, a housewife from West Virginia, mother to fifteen children and grandmother to forty!
Next celebrated in the UK on October 1st 2017, the National Grandparents Day website states that the aim of National Grandparents Day is:
- To honour grandparents
- To give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children
- To help children become aware of the strength, information and guidance older people can offer
With such a large family, Marian knows better than most the vital importance of that special bond children have with their grandparents. She wanted to establish one day every year when those relationships can be celebrated by all, and for the elderly to be honoured and visited, even if they do not have grandchildren in their lives.
Do we need Grandparents Day?
Grandparents play such an important role in the lives of modern families and it is perhaps fitting that one day every year the love and support we provide is recognised and celebrated.
Grandparents offer endless time, love and patience to our grandchildren and expect nothing back in return. When they are little they fall in love with us as we captivate them with stories about our own childhood and play make believe games, and is there anything more fun than horsey rides on Grandad’s back?
As they get older, we become a shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen, an encyclopedia of knowledge and experience – but mostly, a trusted friend who will always put them first.
Grandparents also provide a huge amount of day-to-day care for our grandchildren. In fact, a study by familiesonline.co.uk revealed that 8 in 10 grandparents take care of our grandchildren on a weekly basis.
Having a day to celebrate everything that grandparents do for our loved ones might encourage our younger generations to take some time to consider just how much we give them.
Not just in terms of the free babysitting and monetary gifting – which, incidentally, is one of the most popular reasons for equity release – but in terms of our love, patience and emotional support.
What do people do on Grandparents Day?
If you would like to see Grandparents Day become an annual celebration in your own family, then what kind of things could we do to get the most out of it?
Firstly, Grandparents Day is a family day, so arranging to spend some time with your grandchildren is important. For those of us with loved ones who are often very busy or some distance away, it can be a perfect excuse to get some quality family time booked in.
Much like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, it is an ideal opportunity to enjoy a family lunch together, be it at a favourite restaurant of yours or simply around the family table.
Wherever you choose to do it, bringing your loved ones together to share a meal will give the day a real focus.
In America, schools and churches celebrate the day with special events that families can attend together. Some families use it as an excuse for a large reunion, and others take the opportunity to take small gifts or some flowers to elderly people in care homes and in their neighbourhood.
Traditions you can start on Grandparents Day
Once you have got everyone together, which is often the biggest hurdle, then other ways you can celebrate the day include:
- Holding a ‘Jacob’s Join’ style lunch for your family and friends. Ask everyone to make and bring some food that reminds them of one of their grandparents, then ask each person to share why they chose what they have brought. This is a great way to get people talking about fond memories of their grandparents.
- So many board games can be enjoyed by the whole family. Ask relatives to bring their favourite games with them so you can play them together. Your grandchildren will love teaching you a new game to play, and likewise will enjoy learning how to play some of the traditional games from our own childhood.
- Have a story-telling time, encouraging grandparents to share stories of their past, and grandchildren to talk about their favourite memories of their grandparents.
- Get out the family photo albums and videos to look through together. Make sure you show them any photographs of your own parents and grandparents and talk about them.
- Together, create your own family tree using photographs of each person and see how far back you can go. Share memories of each person you include.
*Daily Mail March 2015