This Sunday was National Grandparents Day, signed into law in 1978. The slightly cynical part of me was glad to learn that the holiday was started not by a card-maker or a florist but rather by a woman who had 43 grandchildren! She simply wanted Americans to set aside a day for grandparents and grandchildren to show their love for one another. That’s about as pure and simple—and grassroots—as a holiday can be.
Whenever grandparents and grandchildren spend time together, it’s golden. The older generation gets to pass down their values and hard-earned wisdom. The younger folks feel tied to family and linked to the past. And everybody loves the attention.
In honor of Grandparents Day, the September issue of Highlights urges kids to interview grandparents to learn more about them. We suggest that they write down their discoveries and make a keepsake book or record their grandparents as they answer the questions. We love this simple idea—time-tested and guaranteed to make memories.
When my paternal grandmother passed away, we discovered a box of old photographs in her home. My sisters and I spent hours going through them, trying to identify who was in the pictures, guessing about dates and geography. One old photo in particular mystified us. On the back of it, my grandmother had written in pencil, “The saddest day ever. 1929.”
What happened? Who is that grieving woman—my grandmother? A relative? And what is she grieving? Was it related to the Great Depression? Was it a death—maybe the end of a romance? Who is the man leaning against the fence post, looking out, seemingly detached?
The photo continues to haunt us. It makes me wish that I had spent more time with my grandmother talking about her life—the good times, the seasons of loss and grief, her hopes and aspirations, her fears. I’m certain I would be richer for it.
Did you have a grandparent who enriched your life in some way? Do your children? I hope you’ll share a memory here.