Falling on the first Sunday after Labour Day, Grandparents Day is to honour the place of grandparents in our lives and in our children’s lives too. Created in the United States in 1978 (and recognized in Canada in 1995), Jimmy Carter wrote about Grandparents Day in the following way in a presidential proclamation:
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.
I didn’t know any of my four grandparents; they died in Malaysia when I was a young child, after my family immigrated to Canada. Partly because of this, and partly because my children’s grandparents are strong and constant presences in their lives, I think it’s wonderful to have a designated day to direct our attention to the blessing that is grandparents.
In my own life, that also means taking a minute to appreciate my mother and my in-laws, for the many ways in which their help and encouragement bolsters up our own nuclear family unit. My husband and I are lucky enough to live in the same city with our parents (and our siblings), and we have resisted the temptation to move because we know how rare and valuable these family bonds are.
Grandparents Day could be better known and better celebrated in Canada. No matter, we do what we can do. Wander into your garden and choose some flowers, bake a little something in your kitchen or stop by the bakery, or make a card with your kids. Bring whatever you find in your hands to an older person to whom you owe a great deal, and hand it over. Unless it is truly unreasonable to expect this from you, make an extra effort to overlook whatever differences you may have with your parents, in-laws, and grandparents, and pick up the phone.
It won’t be so very long, if we should be so lucky, that the parents writing and reading this blog will become grandparents. And when we do, it might be nice if Grandparents Day were a well-established holiday during which we might get just a little extra nod. We can get that ball rolling this Sunday with small gestures that show grand love.