I’m not sure how you feel, but the waning days of summer always hit me with a zillion regrets—the picnics not packed, the flowers not planted, the lakes where I never even dipped a toe.
Well, I’m here to save you from one regret—forgetting all about Grandparents Day! I know September 8th 2013 will creep up on us in no time at all, but there’s still time to recognize Grandparents and other older adults in your life with more than a card! (Let’s do more than make Hallmark happy.)
Are you a grandparent? Grab this chance to show your grandchildren how special it is to live a long life. Be as creative as Grandma Prisbrey, stacks of free online resources make it easy and fun.
Are you a teacher or librarian? Let’s all use Grandparents Day as an opportunity for a little re-education. I’m hoping you’ll join me in embracing one of the Legacy Project’s goals—“Make children and adults – especially parents and teachers – aware of the strengths of older people, and confront some of the stereotypes we often hold toward aging and older adulthood.”
Organizations such as the Legacy Project, Generations United and Intergeneration Month.org offer free comprehensive guides to Grandparents Day activities (click on the organization’s names for links.) Many ideas are geared to schools and teachers, but transfer easily to other settings.
Planting a few seeds—here are ideas to play with to celebrate Grandparent’s Day and beyond—take it into the following week of September 8-14—Grandparents Week. A busy teacher? Never fear! The month of September is Intergeneration Month.
- Give books instead of cards (thank you Susan V. Bosak, author of Dream: a Tale of Wonder, Wisdom and Wishes, a picture book for all ages). Naturally it should be a Positive Aging book and be sure to read it out loud together–kids and adults. (Other beautiful picture books for gifting to older adults are—Older Love by Warren Hanson and The Gifts of Being Grand by Marianne Richmond.)
- Plant a tree or adopt a tree—honor your grandparent or grandchild and leave an important legacy (thank you Generations United.) Are you aware of the importance of large, old trees to slowing climate change? Sadly, many young trees die from lack of water or injury before they reach maturity. See Canopy.org for tons of helpful hints on tree care and read about the mission of Archangel Ancient Tree Archive to grow new trees from the oldest and best Champion Trees still around.
- Share stories with the younger generation about your family history—your stories have value for surprising reasons. According to Dr. Duke and Dr. Fivush of Emory University, “People who know about their family histories have the most self confidence, have a strong sense of control over their lives and believe their families function successfully.” (Find their “Do You Know?” List and use it to get started.)
Perhaps your story will have enormous impact. Author Becky Birtha added to her own grandmother’s true tales of segregation in the South to create Grandmama’s Pride. And did you know the stories of elders influenced the author of Gone With the Wind?
- Plant a Little Free Library in your front yard and reach out to an older adult living alone in your neighborhood. You will be joining a new joint initiative of Little Free Libraries and AARP to reduce the social isolation of elders living alone. But you can make a new “Grandfriend” without a little library too…
- Speaking of libraries—ask your local librarian (or bookstore) to add a few Positive Aging children’s books to the shelves, and share them at story time also. See Six Reasons why right here. Find books on the Resource List.
- Start a new tradition with a grandchild, a grandparent, or another older adult (thanks Generations United.) Read this article for some fun ideas. Or create your very own holiday Mrs. Muddle style! (see my book review of Mrs. Muddle’s Holidays.) Author Laura F. Nielsen can spark a new holiday just for your family with resources on Mrs. Muddle’s website.
Celebrate Grandparents Day with new vigor and remember our goal—“Make children and adults – especially parents and teachers – aware of the strengths of older people, and confront some of the stereotypes we often hold toward aging and older adulthood.” Don’t forget—we ALL become what we think as we age. (Read about the Power of Your Beliefs here.)
Do you have an idea or plans to share?