Grandparents Day has been a holiday since 1978 when President Jimmy Carter passed legislation declaring the first Sunday after Labor Day as Grandparents Day. It is not as well-known as Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, but can hold just as much meaning.
Grandparents (whether biological or not) can be a great role model, childcare provider, tutor, safe person and source of strength, information, and guidance. Some people feel closer to their grandparents than their own parents. There is no love like the love of a grandparent.
For me personally, I know I won the grandparent lottery- having made it to 34 with all my grandparents alive and well. They are truly the best. They are also the best great-grandparents to my three children and the best grandparents-in-law to my husband (who hardly knew his own).
How can I celebrate Grandparents Day/grandparents in general? There are so many things you can do to celebrate this special day and these wonderful people!
Take photos or look at photos!
If I learned one thing during my time working for Disney, photographing families on magical vacations – GET THE GRANDPARENTS IN THE PICTURES. I encountered many families who had grandparents along. I always encouraged the grandparents to get in the picture – and most did after a little gentle nudging! Many parents thanked me for encouraging the grandparents to get a photo with their grandkids.
Of course, you don’t have to be at Disney World to take special photos with grandparents. Take them when your kids are playing catch with them, baking cookies, shopping, a hug goodnight, after a soccer game or ballet recital. Moments do not need to be special to capture them in time. Someday that will be all your kids have of them. I did not comprehend this until I was an adult and saw the video of my parents wedding after many years of not seeing it. It was so heartwarming to see family members who have gone to Heaven, but forever captured in time laughing and dancing with family. When you think you’ve taken enough, TAKE MORE.
A great activity for kids and the grandparents in their lives (or even your own) is looking at old photos and videos. This is one of my favorite things to do at big family events. At my beloved grandpa’s 80th birthday- there was photos of him and my grandmother when they first got married that I had never seen. There was even a sweet photo of him and his siblings that I asked for a copy of.
Another reason looking at photos is a great activity is this can be a form of what’s called reminiscence therapy. Those who may have Alzheimer’s or dementia are able to recall things easier sometimes when looking at photos and remembering days gone past. Sort of like getting a little bit of their old selves back.
Grandparents can be such a wealth of knowledge- of days gone past, city history, recipes and so much more. Find a list of questions online and have your kids ask their grandparents about their past. Drive through town and have grandparents point out changed monuments and locations. Kids often as fascinated to hear that there was a drive-in movie theatre where Hobby Lobby is or how many restaurants have been where Chick-Fil-A is now.
About a year ago – my brother sat down with each of our grandparents and asked them about their early lives. He asked them what they remembered the most and how they eventually met and fell in love with their spouse. Of course, there were questions about our parents as children and the day him and I were born. This can be similar to reminiscence therapy. Sharing these moments with your grandparents and your own children can be very special.
You don’t even have to do anything fancy with your grandparents (or your kids’ grandparents) to make the time memorable. Grandparents are often happy to just be included in your kids’ lives. Invite them along for school pickup, your weekend afternoon shenanigans or over for dinner and to help put the kids to bed. If they’re able to – being an extra set of hands and eyes can be a big help.
Are any of the grandparents good at cooking? Work working? Painting? Have your kids pick a recipe, an activity, or a craft to do with that grandparent individually and have that be “theirs” for them to remember down the road. ‘
Far Away – But Close at Heart
Even if the grandparents in your lives are far away – there is still so much you can do to celebrate them and include them in your lives. Schedule regular FaceTime or video chat calls with them. Watch the same show and then talk about it later via a phone call. Make some “day in the life” videos to send them or even have your kids make them! Grandparents love seeing the world through the eyes of children.
If COVID gave us a small positive – many schools and activities turned to broadcasting events live on Facebook. Show the grandparents which events your kids will be in so they can tune in. This will help them feel included even far away.
Not everyone has a great relationship with their grandparents and that is ok. Or maybe they passed away before you were born or many years ago. They are always with you – maybe not in the conventional way or the way you hope but they are there. Grandparents don’t need to be blood to provide that relationship. There just has to be the most important thing of all – LOVE.
Make sure you never miss out on a parenting or community-related blog post: sign up to receive Cedar Rapids Moms posts in your inbox. While you’re at it, join our VIP List to ensure you’re one of the first to know about upcoming Cedar Rapids Moms events and promotions!!