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Grandparent's Day
7 Ways to Celebrate Grandparent's Day
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AnnaMarie Houlis
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Journalist & travel blogger
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Of course, you don't need a specific day to celebrate your lovely grandparents, but Grandparent's Day is nonetheless a day to do just that — tenfold.

Here's what you need to know about what Grandparent's Day is, the purpose behind it, the origin and history of the day and how to celebrate it.

What is Grandparent's Day?

Grandparent's Day is, in short, a day to recognize and show respect for your grandmothers and grandfathers. 

What is the purpose of Grandparent's Day?

While many people assume that Grandparent's Day is another national holiday that is the result of lobbying florists and greeting card companies, it has a much deeper meaning than driving sales. 

The purpose of Grandparent's Day is to honor your grandparents and let them know how much you appreciate them. It's about celebrating the connections between generations — as it always has been.

But the day isn't actually only for grandparents. In fact, according to The National Grandparents Day Council, National Grandparent's Day is also “to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children.”

What is the history and origin of Grandparent's Day?

Grandparent's Day dates back to 1956, when a West Virginia mother, Marian McQuade, was helping to organize a community celebration from those over 80 years old. She realized that all too many nursing home residents were forgotten by their families. They didn't often receive visits (if they received any at all), and it broke her heart. So she wanted to start a holiday to bring attention and respect to these forgotten elders — and to honor all grandparents.

McQuade had such a big impact on the elderly population. She was appointed to the West Virginia Committee on Aging, the Nursing Home Licensing Board and, ultimately, to the White House Conference on Aging.

It took a few years for her dream of starting National Grandparent's Day to come to fruition. But it was on August 3, 1978 that West Virginia became the first state to celebrate the holiday, following a federal proclamation signed by President Jimmy Carter.

While McQuade passed away at age 91 years old in 2008, the holiday continues to live on in the hearts of her loved ones. After all, she had 15 children and 43 grandchildren of her own. Today, the whole nation celebrates Grandparent's Day along with McQuade's family.

Today, the holiday occurs during the month of September as a symbol of the "autumn years" of life.

When is Grandparent's Day?

National Grandparents Day falls on the first Sunday after Labor Day every year. Mark your calendar for this year's Grandparent's Day, and the next two to come:

  • September 8, 2019
  • September 13, 2020
  • September 12, 2021

What Are Some Activities to Celebrate Grandparent's Day?

Here are seven significant ways to celebrate your grandparents — people who've had an equally significant impact on your life.

1. Cook and share a meal together.

According to GrandsparentsDay.org, this year's Grandparent's Day is "Dig In! Bringing Generations to the Table!" The campaign and national partners plans to share resources, ideas and information on health and nutrition. You'll be able to find tons of healthy recipes to cook with your grandparents and sit down to share a meal with them.

2. Go to a Grandparents Day event.

Your local Chamber of Commerce will list local Grandparent's Day events in your area, such as museum specials or sponsored events. Look out for events for families, and treat your grandparents to a day of fun. The  Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, for example, is offering a day of music, storytelling and special exhibits, while the Children’s Museum in Pittsburgh is offering free entry to grandparents who come with their grandchildren (as well as 20% off on memberships!).

3. Send your grandparents flowers.

Let your grandparents know how much you love them by writing them a sweet note with some fresh flowers. 1-800Flowers offers a free custom picture frame with your Grandparents Day flower or plant purchase, for example.

4. Listen to the Grandparents Day song together.

Yup. There is indeed a Grandparents Day song. While it's not an official song for the holiday, it was created out of inspiration from it. A musician named Johnny Prill from Bad Axe, Mich. released A Song for Grandma and Grandpa in honor of Grandparent's Day in 2005.

So spend some time together, at the park or in the yard or on the porch, listening to the meaningful lyrics of the song together.

5. Spend a day staycationing together.

Spend the day at home, looking through old photo albums of family pictures and relishing in the memories. You can also play favorite family pastime games together, cook and eat together, and watch your favorite movies.

6. Take a "grandie" together.

Generations United is holding a contest to reward the best "grandie," or an intergenerational selfie.

"Why not #TakeAGrandie during a family vacation with someone of a different generation and let us know by using the hashtag on Facebook and Twitter," Generations United writes. "Your family vacation just won’t be complete without a grandie to show for it! The winner will be determined by the voting public! Just like, share and retweet your favorite grandies!"

The winner of the best grandie will receive a “Grandie Prize,” which Generations United is keeping a mystery. The organization will announce the winner and prize at the end of September.

7. Write your grandparents a letter.

Grandparents love letters. That's just a universal fact. Spend some time to really write a heartfelt letter to your grandparents letting them know just how much you love and appreciate them. Share specific memories that you cherish. Let them know lessons they've taught you that have stuck with you. Tell them all of the things you still want to learn from them. There's no doubt that your grandparents will shed happy tears when reading your personal letter.

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreport and Facebook.

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