September 19, 2014
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Sorry, Gramps, you’re redundant

We learned last week that there is such a thing as Grandparents Day, but it turns out it wasn’t much of a scoop. According to www.grandparents-day.com, the day was invented 43 years ago.

“In 1970, a West Virginia housewife, Marian McQuade, initiated a campaign to set aside a special day just for Grandparents. Through concerted efforts on the part of civic, business, church and political leaders, this campaign expanded statewide. Senator Jennings Randolph (D-WV) was especially instrumental in the project. The first Governor Arch Moore proclaimed Grandparents Day in 1973 in West Virginia. The same year, Senator Randolph introduced a Grandparents Day resolution in the United States Senate. The resolution languished in committee.”

McQuade and her team turned to the media to garner support. They also began contacting governors, senators and congressmen in every state. And they sent letters to churches, businesses and numerous national organizations interested in senior citizens. They persisted and in 1978, five years after its West Virginia inception, the United States Congress passed legislation proclaiming the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day. President Jimmy Carter signed the proclamation. September was chosen for the holiday, to signify the “autumn years” of life, according to the site.

So, we decided to look for local families who were celebrating the day and ask them how they would be celebrating. Unfortunately, that wasn’t as easy as we expected. For people who knew the day was coming and happened to be grandparents said they did nothing special.

“I ‘skyped’ the kids in Florida,” one guy said.

“I forgot all about it,” said another.

“My grandsons are playing football, they will drop by later,” said another guy who was throwing a party the same day to honor the Ford Econoline, the iconic commercial vehicle that became the first mini-van for personal use in America.

The rather tepid response surprised us, especially in light of the way that grandparents, who thought their parenting days were well behind them, have picked up some of the duties of childrearing again as their own children are struggling with multiple jobs just to keep their heads above water. Almost 10 million grandparents support grandchildren under the age of 18, with more than 7 million living with them. Few grandparents complain about the extra time with their grandchildren, but quite a few are shocked and saddened that their own sons and daughters are being deprived of their children by jobs that require so much time for so little reward.

But, when it comes to having a special day for grandparents, most of the ones we spoke to were amused and were outright cynical and were calling it a “Hallmark holiday” invented primarily to get people to spend more on greeting cards and gifts for grandparents or to have them taken out for special, usually expensive meals. No doubt, the economy does need some stimulus but not too many grandparents think that just being themselves and doing what they do deserves any special attention.

Maybe it’s because they are still parents, and believe that what you do for them on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day is more than enough, thank you. They don’t have time to indulge in redundancy – They’re too busy.


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