Grandparents Day is an officially-recognized national holiday in the US that falls each year on the first Sunday after Labor Day. It was initiated at the grassroots level by West Virginian Marian Lucille Herndon McQuade, with the behind-the-scenes support of her husband Joseph L. McQuade. They had 15 children, 43 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild. It was in 1979 that President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the first Sunday after Labor Day each year as National Grandparents Day (September was chosen to signify the “autumn” years of life).
But increasingly, schools and community groups are also organizing Grandparents Day (or Intergenerational Day) events at any time during the year as a way to bring together families and build community. Children have an opportunity to show their appreciation and love toward their grandparents (and other special older adult friends), and grandparents feel valued as their role is validated. These events can also be a steppingstone for creating long-term intergenerational programs and connections.
Grandparents Day observances can take almost any form from demonstrations of talents such as cooking, sculpting, and quilting, to family dances and singalongs, ice cream socials, dinners, compilation of family trees, and, of course, visits to nursing home patients. Regardless of the choice of activity, the idea is to honor grandparents and to cultivate bonding with their grandchildren. Part of the bonding process is familiarizing young people with ancestral lines.