It seems there’s a day for everything, and it appears this Sunday will be one of those for me. Perhaps it’s one for you, too.
For years, Grandparents Day was a non-event, but now — six years after I received that title — I’m embracing the concept.
It was a long time coming, so I’m taking full advantage.
Before my fifth birthday, three of my four grandparents had passed away. Then, shortly after National Grandparents Day earned a presidential proclamation in 1978, the fourth died. A gap of more than 30 years followed, between the time when I had any grandparent alive to honor, and when I became one.
That changed in 2013, and what a delight having the designation is. I know all the jokes about if we had known how much fun grandchildren are, we would have had them first. I know how grandparents are supposed to spoil the kids, feed them candy and ice cream, then turn them back over to their parents who have to straighten them out again.
I’m also aware that what we consider a traditional family unit isn’t always in play. Sometimes, a grandparent becomes a de facto parent in situations where a child doesn’t have both a mother and father in his/her life. There are also situations where it’s deemed best that grandparents become “parents” again due to a variety of unfortunate circumstances.
Regardless, this Sunday, September 8, Grandparents Day rolls around, and it’s time to celebrate. There’s even an official song, Johnny Prill’s “A Song for Grandma and Grandpa.” For many families, it becomes a full weekend of events. They even sell greeting cards to help us remember to do this.
The website nationalgrandparentsday.com offers a helpful list of things grandchildren and grandparents can do together. Most of the activities suggested are things those families might enjoy any day of the year; we don’t necessarily have to wait until the Sunday after Labor Day each September.
In Brownwood, one of the activities promoted locally is scheduled for Saturday at the Lehnis Railroad Museum. All the usual fun exhibits and train rides will be on hand, but for Grandparents Day the museum will offer a special admission price.
The museum provided a brief history of Grandparents Day on its Facebook page, and since it’s a day established in my honor and in honor of millions of others like me, I decided to study it.
Marian McQuade of West Virginia raised awareness about senior citizens throughout the 1970s. In the process, she hoped to establish a national day that would honor grandparents, and in 1970 she began a campaign to do so after the governor of her home state issued his proclamation. After 43 states had followed West Virginia’s lead, President Jimmy Carter in 1978 declared the first Sunday after Labor Day to be National Grandparents Day.
It would seem to be a no-brainer, but a resolution urging the president to make such a proclamation died in a U.S. Senate committee in 1973. History students may recall a lot was happening in Congress in 1973.
In addition to a song, Grandparents Day also has an official flower and how appropriate it is: the forget-me-not. Both were chosen by the National Grandparents Day Council.
I could easily forget about Grandparents Day, except I keep getting reminders. First, a “senior citizens friendly” cell phone company offered me a Grandparents Day incentive to switch carriers.
More significantly, our grandson entered kindergarten last year, and his school invites grandparents to eat lunch with him in the cafeteria. It’s not something we want to miss.
Our unofficial Grandparents Day fell on a school day this week, but it doesn’t matter. We celebrate every day.
Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.