Did you know that this year marks the 40th anniversary of National Grandparents Day? It became official with a proclamation by President Carter in 1978, when he encouraged grandchildren to visit with their grandparents and learn from their life wisdom. Observed on the first Sunday after Labor Day, Grandparents Day falls on Sept. 9 this year.
Grandparents Day may not be as widely celebrated as Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, but that’s no reason not to celebrate it in a meaningful way. In fact, there’s now an entire organization, Generations United, that encourages everyone to “do something grand” for Grandparents Day.
Specifically, Generations United wants grandparents and older adults to use the day to share their wisdom, perspectives and civic values with younger generations. It also wants them to reach out to decision makers to help address the challenges facing future generations, such as health, financial stability and literacy.
It’s a lofty goal, but Generations United also offers a long list of actionable steps to get there — along with your children and grandchildren. Here are just some of the ways that you can do something grand:
1. Call, text or write a letter to your elected officials.
Chances are, you have some opinions about the issues of the day, and your elected officials need to hear about them. After all, you’ve got a lot of voting years left. Now, there are more ways than ever to reach them, whether it’s a good old-fashioned letter or phone call or even a text or a tweet.
In Ohio, LeadingAge can help you stay on top of the issues for older adults. They also give tips on how to reach your representatives. The League of Women Voters’ website can also give you contact information for your local, state and federal elected officials.
2. Help a grandchild or other young adult register to vote.
A federal election year is the perfect time to talk to young people about the importance of exercising their civic duty. It’s also a great opportunity to talk to your grandchildren about when you first voted, with which party you registered, whom you voted for, and why.
Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts on current candidates and issues with younger people, and encourage them to do the same — you might just learn something from each other. Go here for detailed voting information by state.
3. Volunteer together.
Volunteering is something that appeals to all generations. Youth volunteering is on the rise, with 8.5 million young people serving their communities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And a recent Civic Ventures survey of older adults who plan to work in retirement revealed that more than three-quarters were interested in doing so in ways that helped people in need.
Places that could benefit greatly from intergenerational volunteers include community kitchens and meal delivery services, such as Deupree Meals On Wheels; retirement communities; local parks; and animal shelters.
4. Invest in your grandchildren’s financial security.
We’ve all read the headlines and are wondering what might happen with social security and retirement accounts in the future. Will your grandchildren have the same financial safety nets that you do?
There’s no time like the present to get them thinking about their financial futures. Generations United’s Grandparents Investing in Grandchildren Tips can help you teach them how to make smart decisions about saving and investing.
5. Simply spend time together.
On Grandparents Day or any day, the best gift you can give to your grandchildren is your time. If you’re lucky enough to live in the same town, visit a local museum or park, take a walk or simply spend time at home reading together, cooking together or sharing family photos. If your grandchildren live far away, set up a time to catch up on the phone or via FaceTime or Skype.
After all, those seemingly ordinary, everyday family moments are what make life as a grandparent truly grand.