The Sunday following Labor Day is Grandparents Day.
We could celebrate a national day every day. While we used to call them “Hallmark holidays” in our home — a reason to buy a card for Mother’s Day in May or Father’s Day in June — the older I get the more I latch on to reasons to celebrate. I find myself celebrating different days from social media posts every month.
National Ice Cream Day was on July 18. International Dog Day was on Aug. 26. If I am taking a moment to recognize our pets, Libby and Champ, I need to at least pause and celebrate my grandparents and my children’s grandparents.
Grandparents Day was first recognized in West Virginia in 1973 by Governor Arch Moore. Congress in 1978 passed legislation later signed by President Jimmy Carter recognizing the holiday.
I hold a deep appreciation for my late grandparents and great-grandparents, along with my one living grandparent who remains on the farm near my parents and an easy drive from our home.
The wisdom you glean from grandparents sets a standard for how you live. Sitting at my grandma’s farm kitchen table for coffee, stories and laughs gives me the routine and normalcy I crave on the crazy days of life. When I feel overwhelmed by parenting, outside commitments, news headlines and world happenings, I talk to my grandma. She’s well-read, educated, draws on a full life of experiences and always has an opinion to share with me.
My grandma has 10 grandchildren, plus spouses, and nine great-grandchildren. All of us get a birthday card in the mail and a Christmas card and gift. Grandma is in her 90s. While I haven't saved years of cards as she has, I started tucking away her recent cards for when she is no longer sending them as a reminder of her care my entire life.
I took growing up around grandparents as standard, not realizing many Americans don’t live near generations of family. I also didn’t account for the role my maternal grandparents played in my life until the emotional day I left the farm for an out-of-state college experience. My grandpa said we needed to “go for a drive to check pastures,” which led to us driving up, down and around every country road while he shared nuggets of his life and wisdom he thought I should know and could use as I navigated the complicated life I faced. He was right, and his wisdom never left me. He passed away a few years ago. I still ponder what Grandpa would think on many of my life situations.
While she wasn't with me for as long, I know I am most like my paternal grandmother, an independent woman who didn't always fit into her generation. She was ahead of her time, blazing a path in rural North Dakota I have often felt I follow. I take pride in knowing her influence carried on to me. My dad calls me by her name, Dorothy, when I remind him of her. As an adult, I learned to take that as a compliment. But I'm thankful I gained better cooking and homemaking skills from my mother and maternal grandmother than Dorothy had.
If you still have grandparents in your life, call, write and/or visit them this week. If you do not, share a positive experience, memory or knowledge you learned from a grandparent. Bake your grandma's recipe you miss. And if you're a grandparent, do not miss this opportunity to connect with your grandchildren, in-person, over the phone or by a video call, or in a handwritten letter.
Pinke is the publisher and general manager of Agweek. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect with her on Twitter @katpinke.