October 03, 2018

The Americans get a lot of things right, and National Grandparents Day might just be one of them. As the name aptly suggests, Grandparents Day is a special day that has been specifically set aside to pay tribute to both paternal and maternal grandparents.

Much in the same way that we celebrate our Mum’s on Mother’s Day, Grandparents Day gives grandchildren a chance to honour the generation before.

Yes, I know that a lot of people in the UK consider Grandparents Day a silly invention of the greeting card companies, but a lot of American families have embraced it as another secular holiday and I can think of stranger reasons to celebrate.

But whilst I like the idea of Grandparents Day and can completely relate to the reasons behind it, in Britain we really don’t have an equivalent.

Well, we do – sort of. In 1990, the charity Age Concern actually did try to introduce a National Grandparents Day, but it’s never been publicised very well, nor has it been commercialised to any real extent, so it tends to pass by every year without much of a fuss.

Have you ever heard of it?  Chances are, the answer’s no.

Maybe you’ve spotted a card in a shop window, but not thought much of it and that’s a real shame, because while we’re going about our daily business and living our lives, many of us owe a lot to our grandparents.

National Grandparents Day was introduced to America by Marian McQuade of Oak Hill, West Virginia, as recognised by the United States Senate.

McQuade made it her mission to educate youths in her area about the importance of seniors. There wasn’t a national day to celebrate them, so she thought why not? In 1973, a resolution was put forward to make it a national holiday. It became so in forty-three states.

Ever since, National Grandparents Day has been a thing over the pond. By no means is it as celebrated to the extent of Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, but it is celebrated nether-the-less and I think that’s absolutely fantastic.  Something we can learn from here.

But why?

I was fortunate growing up to have quite a lot to do with both sets of Grandparents.  They were around for the whole of my childhood and passed away when I was much older.

I learned a lot without even realising it, just by spending time with them.

Stories from when they were young, their experiences and the things they had been through.  Years and years of wonderful stories.  Memories that had a chance to live on, otherwise, what would have happened to them?

I’d hate to think they were just gone.

Wonderful recipes for jams and foraged fruits; sweet making recipes tried and tested hundreds of times over decades; knowledge of how to fix just about anything; knowledge of the countryside and little known histories of where they lived; the list goes on. 

Grandparents are amazing.  People are amazing. But people whose lives have spanned decades before we were even born are definitely amazing.

They’ve seen industries, fashions, new inventions and crazes come and go.

They’re not just the people you see sitting there.

They’re childhood sweethearts who married young, bought houses and cars, raised families, took holidays, sailed under every bridge on the Thames in their own boat. 

Lifetimes of happy and sad memories.  Lifetimes of people loved and lost.  Lifetime of lessons learned and that’s worth celebrating.

I know I definitely wouldn’t have had the chance to experience even half the things I did as a child without my grandparents.

Trips to the seaside, long walks along the canal, learning to sew. Bargain hunting at local markets.

Learning about favourite colours, flowers, clothes.  I got the opportunity to really appreciate who they were as people.

Things I’ll never forget and things I can pass on myself to my own children.

 

So maybe National Grandparents day in the UK does deserve to be a little more recognised than it is.

It isn’t a national holiday in Britain right now, but there’s no reason why you can’t make it a tradition anyway.

It’s the first Sunday in October (when the Americans celebrate it), FYI.


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