"By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge
the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches." ~Proverbs 24:3-4

Not Just For Kids


Who spoils you and loves you unconditionally? Lets you get away with anything? Fills you up with cookies and ice cream? Gives you toys and money when it’s not even your birthday? Your grandparents! Now is your chance to honor those wonderful folks. Every September on the first Sunday after Labor Day, Americans observe National Grandparents Day. This year, September 7 is the 25th anniversary of National Grandparents Day.

The founder of National Grandparents Day was Marian McQuade, a homemaker in West Virginia. Mrs. McQuade and her husband Joe have 15 children, 40 grandchildren, and 8 great-grandchildren. At the time, her primary motivation was to champion the cause of the lonely elderly in nursing homes. She also hoped to strengthen the bond between grandparents and grandchildren, by persuading grandchildren to tap the wisdom and heritage their grandparents could provide. In 1972, her efforts helped persuade President Richard Nixon to proclaim a National Shut-in Day.

Following efforts by businesses, churches and political leaders, the first Grandparents Day was proclaimed in West Virginia in 1973. Then Mrs. McQuade and her supporters began contacting the media, organizations for senior citizens, governors, senators and congressional representatives in every state. Finally in 1978, Congress passed legislation proclaiming a National Grandparents Day and President Jimmy Carter signed the proclamation. September was chosen as the month, to signify the "autumn years" of life.

How to Celebrate Grandparents Day

Grandparents Day is a family day recognized by schools, churches, and senior organizations. Some families enjoy small, private gatherings, while others celebrate by holding a family reunion. The day can be a story-telling time, allowing grandparents to relate stories of their past, enlightening children about "the old days." Grandparents Day can serve as a time to discover one's roots and learn patience, understanding and appreciation for those who have shaped our lives. Many times, only grandparents have answers to questions about family histories. When this information is passed down to the grandchildren, everyone can be assured of his or her heritage being preserved. Grandparents Day is an excellent time to share some of these stories and information.

Did You Know…? The forget-me-not is the official flower for Grandparents Day.

Historical Timeline

Considering the lives of one's grandparents provides a real sense of history! How many of the following events have your grandparents (or great-grandparents) lived through? How many of them have you witnessed?

1903 - Orville and Wilbur Wright successfully fly a powered airplane.
1904 - Work begins on the Panama Canal.
1905 - Albert Einstein formulates his theory of relativity and law of mass-energy equivalence.
1906 - The Great San Francisco earthquake.
1907 - Bakelite, the first synthetic plastic, is invented.
1908 - The first Model T Ford automobile is manufactured.
1910 - Halley's Comet.
1912 - Arizona becomes a state.
1912 - The sinking of the Titanic.
1917 - The U.S. enters World War I.
1920 - Prohibition and the Roaring Twenties.
1926 - The first rocket launched by Robert Goddard.
1927 - The first major talking motion picture, The Jazz Singer.
1928 - Penicillin is discovered.
1929 - The Great Depression.
1930 - Planet Pluto is discovered.
1931 - The Empire State Building is constructed.
1936 - The first black and white TV service.
1937 - The Hindenburg airship explosion.
1937 - The premiere of Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
1939 - World War II begins in Europe.
1941 - Japanese troops attack Pearl Harbor.
1945 - The U.S. drops the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.
1948 - The first long-playing vinyl records were introduced.
1950 - War with Korea is declared.
1951 - The first color TV service in America.
1953 - The first miniature Matchbox toy cars.
1954 - The U.S. Supreme Court declares that racial segregation in schools is unconstitutional.
1957 - The first Lego bricks were invented.
1959 - The first Barbie doll.
1961 - The Berlin Wall is built.
1963 - President Kennedy's assassination.
1965 - The first U.S. troops arrive in Vietnam.
1965 - Portable tape recorders are introduced.
1969 - The first man walks on the moon.
1971 - Texas Instruments produced the first electronic pocket calculator.
1973 - World Trade Center "Twin Towers" completed.
1976 - JVC introduces the VHS format VCR in Japan.
1977 - The Apple II is the first computer made for the general public.
1979 - Sony introduced the Walkman portable audio cassette player.
1980 - Mount St. Helens erupts in Washington State.
1980 - Sony introduced the first consumer video camcorder.
1981 - The Space Shuttle's first flight.
1981 - IBM launched its personal computer.
1982 - Compact discs first appeared.
1985 - The wreck of the Titanic is found.
1986 - The return of Halley's Comet.
1986 - The Space Shuttle "Challenger" explosion.
1986 - Chernobyl nuclear power plant meltdown.
1989 - The Berlin Wall is torn down.
1989 - The World Wide Web is invented.
1989 - The Exxon Valdez Alaskan oil spill.
1990 - The Hubble Space telescope is launched.
1991 - The Gulf War "Operation Desert Storm."
1992 - Los Angeles race riots.
1994 - The first digital cameras for the consumer market.
1995 - Pixar's Toy Story is the first entirely computer-animated film.
1998 - The first two parts of the International Space Station link up.
2000 - The New Millennium.
2001 - Terrorists attack the U.S. Pentagon and World Trade Center buildings.
2002 - Euro becomes legal tender for much of Europe.
2003 - Iraq War began on March 20 of this year.

Be a Family Historian

Your grandparents have been around for a long time. Listen to them, and you may be surprised at how much you can learn from them. Here's a fun history project to do. Interview your grandparents (or great-grandparents). Ask them to tell you about their lives. Where did they grow up? What type of house did they live in? Where did they go to school? What kinds of foods did they eat? What styles were fashionable back then? What music was popular when they were your age? What did they do for fun? What jobs did they have? How much did certain items cost at that time? What famous people and events do they remember seeing? Be sure to take notes, or take a tape recorder along to record the conversation. If your grandparents live far away and you can't visit them in person, write them a letter. They will be happy to know that you're thinking of them and will be glad to answer your questions. Spend time learning about your grandparents now while you can. You may be amazed at how interesting their lives were and how much history you can discover. Time passes quickly and when you're older you won't want to regret that you didn't get to know your grandparents better.

The Importance of Grandparents

Grandparents are important members of the family. Their influence should never be underestimated. Children who live close to their grandparents are less fearful of old age and the elderly. They also feel more connected to their family history and heritage, since grandparents are a direct link to the past. Open communication between grandparents and grandchildren helps to lessen the generational gap. Grandparents serve as role models, mentors, and supporters for their grandchildren. While it’s best to have their actual physical presence nearby, grandparents should at least keep in touch with their grandchildren via regular phone calls or written correspondence.

Did You Know…?

1 out of every 10 children in America is being raised in their grandparents’ home.

What can grandparents and grandchildren do together?

Talk about current events, school, sports or the weather. Discuss parent/child disagreements or other problems, and what to do about them. Tell jokes or funny stories. Read a book. Listen to an audiotape, watch TV, go to a movie or concert. Cook an old family recipe. Work on a hobby (coin collecting), practice a skill (shooting), or sport (golf). Play cards, chess, or a board game. Take a day trip or go to a museum. Plant a garden. Make a quilt or scrapbook.

What do your grandparents mean to you?

What knowledge, skills and traits have your grandparents contributed to your family? My grandmother’s favorite pastimes were sewing, quilting, flower gardening, cooking and baking. She leaves our family with a legacy of: FAITH (unwavering strength at all times); FAMILY (more important than anything else in life); FRIENDS (keeping in touch with a note or card brings happiness); FLOWERS (care for God's earth displayed in colorful gardens); and FOOD (sharing the results of a love for baking and cooking).

Grandparents hold a special place in their grandchildren’s lives, as shown by the following heartfelt letter that I wrote for my grandfather’s memorial service almost 20 years ago:

Thank You, Grampa

Thank you, Grampa, for being with us through all our growing-up years; for caring, and sharing the good things that you knew. Some of the best times of our childhood were spent at your house, playing store, Slap Jack, baseball, and much more. You made every birthday and holiday special with your balloons, party hats, and generosity. We were proud to be able to stand beside you in your workshop as you taught us about tools and craftsmanship. It was always fun learning from you. And we will be forever grateful for what you did for us: driving us to school, picking us up, helping us when we were hurt—you were always there when we needed you.

Thank you so much, Grampa. You weren’t a famous scientist or philosopher, yet you had many different ideas. Some things you said made us laugh, others made us think, and we took everything you said to heart. Your stories about fishing on Lake Erie, your store, the war, your work with the schools, are all a part of our history now. And you were always so strong—we will never forget your big bear hugs that we could never escape from. Because you loved us, and didn’t want to let go. Even when you were in the hospital and could do nothing else, you never lost your strength; nor your smile; nor your love. We could feel it in your grip; we could see it in your eyes. You have always been dear to us, and will always remain near to us, in our hearts and in our memories, as we hope we will to you. We thank you, Grampa.

(By Teri Ann Berg, October 1985)


What Grandmas Do Best, What Grandpas Do Best, by Laura Numeroff. (Both grandmas and grandpas can "play hide-and-seek, make you a hat, and take you for a walk," while Grandma Cat knits a hat for her grandkitten and Grandpa Guinea Pig fashions a hat out of newspaper and tape.)

The Napping House, by Audrey Wood. (“There is a house, a napping house, where everyone is sleeping.” This popular cumulative rhyme tells about a snoring granny, a dreaming child, a dozing dog, a snoozing cat, a slumbering mouse... and a wakeful flea! Uh-oh. Looks like the napping house won't be napping for long!)

My Grandpa is Amazing, by Nick Butterworth. (A fun-filled, happy picture book about a grandpa that everyone would love to have. His skills include riding a motorcycle, building fantastic sand castles, and driving amusement park bumper cars.)

The Patchwork Quilt, by Valerie Flournoy. (In this colorful picture book, Tanya’s grandmother is making a quilt from pieces of colorful fabric from the family’s clothes. When Grandma becomes ill, Tanya decides to finish Grandma's masterpiece.)

Grandfather Never Lies, by Ralph Fletcher. (A young girl’s story of the special relationship with her grandparents, especially Grandpa. In the summer, she spends a whole month at her grandparents' country cottage, where they spend the days playing cards, enjoying the outdoors, and mostly just talking. In the fall, they sip hot chocolate while Grandpa reads fairy tales. In the winter, Grandma dies. The girl and Grandpa mourn together. Then Grandpa visits the girl in the spring.)

Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, by Tomie dePaola. (Tommy is four years old, and he loves visiting his grandmother, Nana Downstairs, and his great-grandmother, Nana Upstairs. But one day Tommy's mother tells him Nana Upstairs won't be there anymore, and Tommy must struggle with saying good-bye to someone he loves. A classic story with full-color illustrations.)

Grandfather’s Journey, by Allen Say. (In this Caldecott Medal book, Allen Say tells the story of his own grandfather, who was born in Japan, raised in California, and returned to Japan, where Say was born. The grandfather ages, and can never return to his beloved second home, because of World War II. Cultural differences are shown, as is the importance of family and tradition.)


www.grandparents-day.com (National Grandparents Day Official Website.)

www.grandparents.net (Grandparents Network: grandmother and grandfather tributes, poems, quotes, proverbs, movies, books, gifts, Grandparents Day history.)

www.cyberparent.com/gran/ (Grandparents’ Web for grandparents and grandchildren: articles, tips, advice, ideas for keeping in touch, fun activities for entertaining visiting grandkids, etc.)

www.ext.nodak.edu/extpubs/yf/famsci/fs548w.htm (The Influence of Grandparents and Stepgrandparents, and how to make a lasting story of their lives for their grandchildren.)

www.familyedge.com/cgi-bin/kidsedge/scripts/familyedge/grandparents/index.jsp (Helping grandparents and grandchildren stay connected; advice and resources.)

www.grandparentsmagazine.net (Grandparents Magazine)


These pages are a continuous work in progress.
Copyright © 2000- by Teri Ann Berg Olsen
All rights reserved.

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