Celebrate National Grandparents Day

Celebrate National Grandparents Day to remind your grandparents of your love for them.


What would the world be without grandparents? Grandparents are not just biological extensions of our own parents. They are the wiser, more seasoned versions of them. And as such, grandparents forge unique relationships with their grandchildren. 

Without the direct responsibility of having to raise, educate, and discipline them, grandparents can spoil their grandchildren. They can break the rules they once created for their own children, and can even get away with little “indiscretions.” 

They can do this because grandparents’ main role is to love and enjoy their grandchildren---the surrogate children they get to spend time with minus the baggage of parenting.

Take my grandma, for instance, who never allowed my mom to stay home from school unless she was running a fever or vomiting.  Period.  There was so such thing as staying home for a sniffle or a belly ache.  Mom was sent to school with coughs, sneezes, wheezes, ear aches, and malaise.   With a hearty lunch in her lunchbox (a liverwurst sandwich or a potato and onion omelet, no doubt), and a “Just stick it out, you’ll be fine,” she was sent on her way.

But thirty years later, when Grandma became the caretaker for my sister and I while my mom worked, her stiff upper lip softened.  She began to break her own rules.

In Grandma’s world, food meant love, so the more you ate of her multicourse meals, the more you were showered in her endless love.  And if you didn’t eat what she prepared, she’d go to extremes to make sure you did. 

In my family, it’s no secret that when my sister crawled under the table to avoid finishing what was on her place, Grandma would crawl under there, too.  With bowl and spoon in hand, she’d make sure my sister ate every last morsel, even if it meant bringing out the big guns---bribery.

“I’ll take you for ice cream if you finish your farina.”

“When you’re all done, we’ll go to the park.”

“If you eat everything on your plate, you don’t have to go to Kindergarten today.”

Yes, you read that last part correctly.  On the days my sister was most reluctant to eat her breakfast, which often included oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, or eggs, she was allowed to stay home from school---when she wasn’t sick.  It was their little secret.

Until the report card came home.

“You kept her home from school 36 times?” My mom shouted incredulously, the paper quivering between her hands.

“It’s only Kindergarten,” Grandma bargained.  “And that kid needs to eat.”

In her mind, Grandma’s love and concern over a child who, in her opinion, was under-nourished, superseded the need for school.

Since she didn’t have the responsibility of answering to teacher phone calls, or sitting in parent-teacher conferences, Grandma had the freedom to express her love in whatever form struck her fancy---even if it included little indiscretions such as bribery or truancy. She coddled. She spoiled. She made judgments which, in hindsight, could have (and should have) warranted an investigation by school authorities. But if ever such an investigation happened, she would have held her head high, looked the official in the eye and said, “It’s only Kindergarten. I got a nice piece of steak I can make you. Why don’t you come over for lunch?”

Grandparents are a special breed. Their love allows them to get away with things our parents never could. Their age and experience act as a shield against social norms and expectations.

Without grandparents, there’d be less laughter, fewer presents and treats. Without grandparents we’d lose that connection to our ancestry. But most of all, when it comes to raising kids, without grandparents, there would be less rule-breaking.

Not to mention, more days of school.

Celebrate the unconditional and limitless love grandparents bestow on their grandchildren. Tell your grandparents you love them today, tomorrow and always on Grandparent’s Day - which falls on the first Sunday after Labor Day.

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