BUCKHANNON — The pandemic has brought forth unprecedented periods of isolation from one another, but the situation has undoubtedly been magnified for grandparents who have been separated from their grandchildren. In effort to keep elders safe, many have refrained from in-person contact, leaving folks longing for those estranged relationships.
Although situations have grown dire lately with rising numbers of local COVID cases, you can still find ways to show love and appreciation to grandparents while keeping everyone safe this year. National Grandparents Day is a nationally observed holiday that will be celebrated this Sunday, September 12.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “In 1970, Marian McQuade initiated a campaign to establish a day to honor grandparents. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a federal proclamation, declaring the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day. To honor our nation’s grandparents, the U.S. Census Bureau presents statistics about their role in American society as caregivers of their grandchildren.”
The American Presidency Project shares the following proclamation: “The elders of each family have the responsibility for setting the moral tone for the family and for passing on the traditional values of our Nation to their children and grandchildren. They bore the hardships and made the sacrifices that produced much of the progress and comfort we enjoy today. It is appropriate, therefore, that as individuals and as a nation, that we salute our grandparents for their contribution to our lives.”
In 2019, the Census Bureau estimated that 7 million grandparents were living with a grandchild under age 18, while 2.3 million grandparents were responsible for most of their basic care. Those statistics have likely grown over the past couple years and grandparents are raising grandchildren at alarming rates, requiring many to continue or resume working past retirement.
National Heritage Academies shared the following creative ways to celebrate Grandparents Day at a distance.
1. Cook and eat a meal “together.” Ask Grandma to send one of her favorite family recipes, gather the ingredients you need, and share a video call where both households prepare and enjoy the food in their respective homes. Make sure to jot down any additional advice she gives you along the way that differs from the recipe. Grandmas always have a special touch.
2. Share some giggles. Play a few rounds of a game like MadLibs and read your responses aloud to each other.
3. Send snail mail. Drop a care package in the mail for Grandpa to be opened as you watch. Everyone loves to receive unexpected mail, and when it’s a box of thoughtful goodies you love—even better. Send puzzle books or word searches, individually wrapped hard candies, a cozy sweater for fall, slippers, or a favorite box of tea. Don’t forget to include hand-drawn art from the kids for him to hang on his fridge, or print a few digital family photos so he has a hard copy.
4. View an old favorite. Make a date to watch a favorite show or movie at the same time and share your reactions. Are your parents super into “Wheel of Fortune” or “Jeopardy”? Maybe they have a classic family movie they love. Plan to tune in together and turn a normal family activity into something fresh.
5. Conduct an interview. Special occasions and holidays are a great excuse to talk about things that may not come up on a normal day. Sit down with your kids and create a fun list of questions, then have them interview their grandparent. Be sure to include questions that prompt funny memories, favorite family moments, and even personal values and passions they’ve adopted.
Grandparents play an immeasurable role in the lives of their families, so this Grandparents Day—and every day—find a way to show admiration for their love, wisdom and guidance provided across generations.