National Holiday: Forget-Me-Not on Grandparents Day

Photo in public domainSUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 9: Want a good reason to celebrate Grandparents Day? It’s not nearly as commercialized as the other family related holidays, so you just might surprise your grandparents with a card, a greeting or a visit. Plus, the motive behind the day, formally recognized since 1978, relates to multi-generational caregiving—a big theme at ReadTheSpirit. (Just one example from ReadTheSpirit is our new Guide for Caregivers book.)

There’s also a unique twist on this holiday’s intention! The original proclamation described the holiday’s purpose this way: “to honor grandparents, and to give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children, and to help children become aware of the strength, information and guidance older people can offer.” Songwriter Johnny Prill, who composed the day’s official anthem, talks about the importance of appreciating the wisdom of older generations. (Check out the YouTube video of the day’s national hymn.)

The idea for such a day originated with Marian McQuade of Oak Hill, West Virginia, who preached the value of grandparents and of seniors in general. McQuade believed in this so much that she lectured to young people about the vital contributions seniors have made throughout history. For young people without biological grandparents, McQuade suggested “adopting” seniors of their choice as stand-in grandparents. After McQuade convinced her own state’s governor to proclaim an annual Grandparents Day, she contacted governors, senators and congressmen from each state to collect support. (Wikipedia has details.) Three years later, 43 states had issued proclamations; in 1978, National Grandparents Day became an official holiday.


The holiday’s official flower is, quite fittingly, the Forget-me-not (or formally the Myosotis arvensis). For history buffs, that was the flower King Henry IV adopted as his symbol during his time of exile from England. And, in the realm of fiction, Tom Bombadil adopted the flower as a symbol in The Lord of the Rings. There’s one reference to it in the Harry Potter novels (no, we won’t say where, as a puzzle for Potter fans). And poets, of course, love the flower! Longfellow wrote:

Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of Heaven,
Blossom the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.


Looking for a fun way to spend time with grandparents or grandchildren? Try baking a favorite food (better yet—a family recipe), looking through old photo albums or taking a walk in the park. (Get quotes for the day, coloring pages, conversation starters and more at Those looking to dig a little deeper can create an Heirloom Catalogue, which provides information about family heirlooms such as who owned it, how it was used, why it was special to that person, etc. (Get more ideas here.) Kids can enjoy photographing the heirlooms and creating their own catalogue to take home.

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