Grandparent’s Day, celebrated in the United States on the first Sunday after Labor Day, was set up for a three-fold purpose: To honor grandparents; to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children; and to help children become aware of the strength, information and guidance older people can offer. As such, many countries, including the Philippines, celebrated Grandparent’s Day on September 11.
It was through the initiative of Marian Lucille Herndon McQuade, who wanted to instill among families the importance of the ties between the young and the old.
In 1978, President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparent’s day, and the proclamation in part, reads: “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 a link to our national heritage and traditions.
“We all know grandparents whose values transcend passing fads and pressures, and who possess the wisdom of distilled pain and joy. Because they are usually free to love and guide and befriend the young without having to take daily responsibility for them, they can often reach out past pride and fear of failure and close the space between generations.”
Today, Grandparents Day is celebrated by millions of people not only in the United States but throughout the world. It is a day that is set aside to honor their parents and grandparents, to visit other older friends and relatives, and to recognize the wisdom, strength and lasting contributions of seniors everywhere. It is also a day of giving—a giving of self; sharing hopes, dreams, and values and setting an example for future generations.
Although companies have capitalized on this idea, making it appear to be a just another ploy to make a profit on the sale of cards and flowers, let’s not trivialize this special day and remember it as a day to bring families together, to teach our children how to show their respect and love towards their grandparents, and to have grandparents feel valued and appreciated.
The connection between generations benefits both the young and the old: Grandparents will keep their “youthful” feeling because of grandchildren, and grandchildren will be wiser because of their grandparents.
As grandparents what can we do for our grandchildren, so that build a worthwhile legacy for them?
•We will pray for them. Never underestimate the power of prayer! And a prayer for a child never falls on deaf ears.
•We will teach them at every opportune moment we have, and instill in their hearts and minds a love for God and others.
•We will model ideals before them such as nobility of character, honesty, fairness and justice.
•We will use our influence to keep them going in the right direction.
•We will tell and retell our old family stories so that they gain a sense of identity and heritage from them.
•We will support our children in their parenting. If we want our grandchildren to respect their parents, we must respect them as well.
•We will treat our children and grandchildren with dignity, giving the honor and respect due them.
In 2015, Warner Bros. released the film The Intern, starring Anne Hathaway and Robert de Niro. It is a story about Ben Whittaker, a 70-year-old widower and retired executive, who applies to a senior citizen intern program and gets hired into an online fashion startup company, whose fast-paced and driven boss places him on the sidelines. Slowly, Ben wins his co-workers, and eventually his boss, too, with his amiability, wisdom and sense of humor. It’s a heartwarming movie that validates the importance of the elderly. As the Chicago Sun-Times wrote, “The Intern grows us on from scene to scene, from moment to moment.” It’s a must-see shortly after Grandparent’s Day on Sunday.
This year, my husband and I celebrated Grandparent’s Day for the first time. We were proud to join the millions of grandparents out there who have reached the “autumn of our lives.”
To end, let me leave you with this trivia: Did you know that in April 1999 the Forget-Me Not was adopted as the official flower for National Grandparent’s Day. A very apt choice indeed, as oftentimes, we forget to make time for our elders. We need to remember to be respectful and to give our time and love to our grandparents who have contributed so much to our lives and through whose wisdom we can learn so much from.