Grandparents Day 2021: Know the True Story Behind the Family Holiday

Photo: (Photo : STEFANIE LOOS/AFP via Getty Images)

Every Sunday following Labor Day is Grandparents Day in the U.S. and some parts of the world, and for 2021, the annual family holiday will take place on September 13.

The special event wasn't celebrated until the 1950s, when a West Virginia native, Marian McQuade, decided to create a day to honor the members of the elderly community. According to Reader's Digest, McQuade realized that the seniors living in aged care facilities didn't receive many visitors from their families. Hence, she wanted to designate a day to encourage children and grandchildren to set aside this time for grandma and grandpa.

However, McQuade's initiative didn't become the official Grandparents Day until other citizens pushed the holiday's creation into law.

In 1969, a 9-year-old boy named Russel Capper wrote President Richard Nixon about dedicating a day to grandparents, similar to Father's Day and Mother's Day. Nixon wrote back to the boy to commend him on his excellent idea, but the president said an official Grandparents Day would need an act of Congress to enforce.

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President Jimmy Carter's Resolution

In 1973, Gov. Arch Moore in West Virginia proclaimed that Grandparents Day would be an annual holiday observed state-wide. In 1978, another West Virginia resident, Sen. Jennings Randolph, hatched a plan to bring Capper and McQuade's idea to the Senate floor. After introducing the resolution, President Jimmy Carter signed the bill to make Grandparents Day a National Day of Observance during the fall season.

Following the proclamation, the first Grandparents Day was celebrated in the whole country in 1979 with forget-me-not as the official flower and "A Song for Grandma and Grandpa" by Johnny Prill as the official song.

In the 1980s, many businesses cashed in on Grandparents Day by coming out with specific gift packages and cards just for this family holiday. However, unlike Mother's Day, Father's Day, or even Valentine's Day, Grandparents Day isn't as commercialized or profitable for merchandise.

Celebrating Grandparents Day in the Pandemic

Because of the health risks of this pandemic, some families might not be able to visit their grandparents at care facilities. However, the family may arrange for a simple video chat since honoring grandmothers and grandfathers does not have to be a grand party. Perhaps the grandkids will enjoy the Sunday afternoon to paint with grandma or grandpa, albeit virtually.

If the aged care facility allows visitors amid COVID-19 protocols, spending at least an hour with them will surely make their day. It might be better to plan a picnic outdoors to reduce the risk of virus transmission.

Those who live far away from their grandparents may also brighten their day with a gift or a card. Grandparents will love receiving a care package, a letter, or homemade cards from their grandchildren.

Some families also conduct genealogy research to chart their family history from websites like Ancestry, especially if their grandparents are no longer around or can no longer recall stories from their past.

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