This Sunday, September 10, you're encouraged to call up your grandfather or make a lunch date with your grandma. But, in the original spirit of Grandparents Day, you could spend the day with any elderly person who's made an impact on your life. This holiday is probably more inclusive than all the greeting cards would have you think.
In 1970, Marian McQuade, a mother of 15 from West Virginia, set out to raise awareness for elderly nursing home residents. Fearing that these people were missing out on important family bonding due to their need for intensive care, she petitioned the government for an official day of observance.
Campaigning on a message that we have a lot to learn from the entire elderly community, McQuade first established Grandparents Day as a statewide holiday in West Virginia, with the help of local officials and community leaders. By 1978, President Jimmy Carter declared it a national holiday, urging "each citizen to pause and to reflect on the influence his grandparents have had in shaping his own destiny."
From sending cards or giving small gifts, there are tons of ways to celebrate Grandparents Day — you don't even need to have a grandparent. In keeping with McQuade's belief that the elderly mustn't be forgotten, you can "adopt" a grandparent and spend the day with a nursing home resident who might not have grandchildren of their own.
In 2003, five years before her death, McQuade told the L.A. Times that she never intended Grandparents Day to be about any one particular form of celebration. "It's to alleviate some loneliness," she said. Even if you can't spend the weekend with your grandparents, visiting a nursing home, emailing a mentor of yours, or making any kind of gesture that shows your appreciation for the elderly will honor McQuade's legacy.