You probably remember your grandparents telling tales from their childhood—their struggles, triumphs and what it was like growing up back then. At the time, you may not have understood the significance of these family stories and the lessons hidden within but now these anecdotes are likely among your collection of most treasured memories. Regardless of the relationship, you had with your grandparents, their mere existence no doubt influenced and shaped the person you are today. As a matter of fact, the role of grandparent is so significant and vital that National Grandparents Day was established to honor and affirm the unique role grandparents play in families across the country.
Each year National Grandparents Day falls on the first Sunday after Labor Day and this year will be observed on September 9th. The concept of Grandparents Day was conceived by Marian McQuade in the early 1970’s and National Grandparents Day was established by official proclamation from President Jimmy Carter in 1979. In part, his proclamation read:
“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. Whether they are our own or surrogate grandparents who fill some of the gaps in our mobile society, our senior generation also provides our society a link to our national heritage and traditions.”
Unlike Mother’s and Father’s Day, Marian McQuade did not envision the holiday as “belonging” to grandparents. Instead, she saw it as a day of celebration which would allow different generations within a family to connect and share their knowledge. Although McQuade intended for grandparents to be honored on this day, she also felt that it was an opportunity for grandparents to confirm their loving legacy while passing on their years of wisdom and insight to the following generations.
National Grandparents Day helps to cultivate intergenerational relationships and friendships in general regardless of familial connections. Many elder Americans living in senior communities have found this to be particularly true because of the meaningful friendships they’ve established with the younger associates and volunteers working within their communities. This point is particularly true for Bill Hall, a resident of Carlton Senior Living, who declared that a birthday celebration hosted for him by his “Carlton Family” made him happier than any event during his entire ninety-five years of life.
Stories like this offer a unique perspective on the importance of establishing these timeless bonds between the generations regardless of family connection. Whether or not you have grandparents or grandchildren to share with on National Grandparents Day, it is important to remember that before you reap the rewards of intergenerational friendships, you must first put time into cultivating them. Be it the simple act of sharing a story or a shared experience like with the senior living associates throwing Bill the party of a lifetime, each generation has something unique and valuable to offer.
Written by Denee Coleman
Read about Carlton resident and grandmother, Betty Powell, who remains active and involved in her Carlton community at 103 years-young: Resident Spotlight – Betty Powell, Celebrating 5 Generations of Family