September 7th is National Grandparents Day in the United States.

More than a reason to sell greeting cards, this annual event recognizes the strength, love and guidance grandparents provide to families.

Unlike decades past when many family members (including grandparents) lived near one another, today’s families often reside far away from each other and in various states across the country. My immediate family and I are fortunate to live in a neighboring community to my parents. Being the youngest of my siblings and my parents having me later on in their life, it’s a priority to me that my children get to spend quality time and grow up around my parents. Tradition is very important to family and we are a blend of Puerto Rican, Cuban, Spanish, Italian, and Caucasian ethnicities. As the ‘baby boomer generation’ gets older, many traditional and festive customs can sometimes disappear or be forgotten with time.

National Grandparents Day is a great opportunity to spend time with grandparents and learn about family customs and traditions. Children can learn a lot about family history by spending time talking with their grandparents and comparing their life stories.

The following are a few tips on how grandchildren and grandparents can celebrate Grandparents Day together: 

  • Spend Time Talking – Grandparents are a wealth of information not only about family stories, but are witnesses to history and have firsthand knowledge of various historical facts. Families can ask questions like what their grandparents were like when they were young, where did they live? Did they know their own grandparents? What did they do for fun? What did they eat or drink? For example, Tampico Beverages, Inc. has been around since 1989. Chances are, grandparents and grandchildren have knowledge about Tampico and it provides an opportunity to discuss things that were similar or different from the past compared to today. Record answers or videotape their answers for future generations and for historical preservation.

 

  • Create Activities – My young twin boys like to go my parents’ home because they do many hands-on activities and crafts with them. Technology and gadgets are put aside for learning and creative play. The twins like to help my parents tend to their garden and plants. My parents purchased complete “gardener” outfits for the boys and the boys help to water and plant with their age-appropriate tools. My mother has a gift for creating crafts and designing. She often makes crafts with them (like a cardboard box aquarium or handprint family tree) using simple everyday objects that also teaches them English and Spanish words along the way. The boys are having fun and learning at the same time.

 

  • Review Family Pictures and Objects – My teen had to do a genealogy project at school and he sat with my parents and looked over old photographs and videos for research. Since my father (and mother) had a high-profile political career in New York, my teen found out that my mother kept albums full of newspaper clippings and articles about my father and his job. Included were photos of my parents with politicians and celebrities of the era. Taking an interest in his grandparents’ history, my son gained a newfound appreciation for my parents and a positive sense of self-worth knowing our family’s background. Family objects (like heirlooms) give an opportunity to share history, the importance of family ties and having a tangible item helps to discuss heritage and traditions in a way children can understand and relate to.

Remember to honor the grandparents in your life on September 7th, and everyday.