Grandmas and Grandpas, Meemaws and Pop-Pops, Abuelas and Abuelos, Bubbes and Zaydes, Omas and Opas, Nonnas and Nonnos... whatever we call them, our grandparents are treasured members of the family. Not that you (or your kids) need an excuse to tell them how special they are, but National Grandparents Day is the ideal opportunity to do just that.
The holiday always falls on the Sunday after Labor Day, according to the Old Farmer's Almanac. That means that Grandparents Day 2019 is September 8 in 2019. Next year, though, the holiday will occur almost at the middle of the month — the 13th — because of the quirky Leap Year configuration that pushes Labor Day all the way to the 7th.
Like Mother's Day and Father's Day before it, Grandparents Day is a small idea that blossomed into something much bigger. As Legacy Project explained, it was the invention of Marion Lucille McQuade, who knew a little something about the topic: She had 43 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandchild.
A long-time advocate for older adults, McQuade became a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging in 1971. Shortly before the appointment, she began lobbying in her home state of West Virginia to establish a day for grandparents. From there, she spent years working to expand the celebration nationally. Her efforts were finally rewarded in 1979, when President Carter signed a proclamation declaring a permanent Grandparents Day. (The month of September was chosen because of autumn's association with the "aging" of the year.)
Grandparents are so much more than just the people who send $5 bills in birthday cards and sneak candy to the kids when Mom isn't looking. They're a link to our family history — and to the history of their own generation. They can offer advice and perspective on everything from broken toys to broken hearts. They provide unconditional love and support (and sometimes act as a buffer between child and parent when little crises happen at home).
They play an important part in our mental health, too: Studies cited by Fatherly found that children who are close to their grandparents are less likely to be depressed as adults.
Many Grans and Gramps double as surrogate parents: An estimated 3 million grandparents are currently raising their grandchildren, according to the AARP. When parents are emotionally, physically, or financially unable to take care of their children, it's often the older generation who are called in to take over the job. Still other grandparents act as caregivers during the day while the parents work, which can actually help them live longer, according to another study quoted by Fatherly.
Whatever the reason you have for honoring your parents' parents on Grandparents Day, there are any number of ways to do it from cooking one of their favorite recipes with them to making a memory book for them to taking them to their favorite spot. What they really want to do more than anything is spend the day with the youngest generations their family.
Happy Grandparents Day to all the great grandparents (and great-grandparents) we love!