At Public Storage we like to talk about saving vintage heirlooms to remind ourselves of important family members, whether grandma’s sterling place settings or a favorite uncle’s wide-brimmed fedoras.
Today, however, is not a day to focus on things that bring good memories. It’s about making the effort to engage with the people who helped create those stories, the patriarchs or matriarchs of your family, or even an esteemed neighbor or friend. Today is National Grandparents Day, founded with the goal of fostering improved relations between the generations and helping people who may not have family nearby. It is a day for family reunions, visiting a senior center or at least giving mom a call.
A West Virginia housewife named Marian McQuade had an idea and a lot of determination to make the day official. She gathered support and with her team successfully lobbied Congress to pass a proclamation making the first Sunday after Labor Day a day to honor grandparents and older people in general. Jimmy Carter signed it in 1978 and various lawmakers from both political parties have supported it since.
“Our grandmothers and grandfathers have profoundly influenced every part of our society, and as their grandchildren, it is incumbent upon all of us to provide them with the care and support they so deeply deserve,” President Barack Obama said in a proclamation issued for last year’s holiday.
Marian passed away in 2008 at the age of 91 but her vision is still carried on by her descendants on the official website for National Grandparents Day. They still emphasize spending time with family and with elderly people who have no family. If you don’t have plans to celebrate today with family, you can still carry on Marian’s vision.
- Organize a family reunion involving all generations and create activities that encourage interaction.
- Organize board games and other activities that all generations can enjoy.
- Set aside a story-telling time at family events for grandparents to share.
- Gather family together around old photos. Identify everyone and create an album.
- Set aside time when a grandparent can teach a skill, from preserving fruit to whittling wood.
- Set aside time to play old music from a grandparent’s past to learn about family history.
- Work together in a group to create a family tree.
- Organize time at schools, senior organizations and facilities to honor community heritage.
- Spend time visiting and corresponding with shut-ins who cannot visit with family.
by Ann Griffith