National Grandparents Day, which will be celebrated Sept. 10, has been around since 1978 and is celebrated in the U.S. and the United Kingdom.
The person recognized as the day’s founder, Marian McQuade of West Virginia, wanted the young people in her community to understand how important older people have been to U.S. and world history.
She also wanted them to “adopt” a grandparent, whether their own or a senior in the community without immediate family nearby, for a lifetime.
This year, National Grandparents Day is Sept. 10 (it’s always the Sunday after Labor Day). To help you celebrate it with your grandparents or “grandparents by choice,” here are some movie and music suggestions.
“The Princess Diaries”: Mia (Anne Hathaway) is an awkward high school student who lives in San Francisco with her artistic mom.
She suddenly learns her paternal grandmother, Clarisse (Julie Andrews), is the queen of a small European country and wants to her to take over the throne someday. First, though, Mia will need to go through a transformation. Will fulfilling the role of a princess change who Mia really is? This is a fun, family friendly movie for granddaughters and grandmothers of all ages to enjoy together.
“Parenthood”: Steve Martin is always good for a laugh; in “Parenthood,” he doesn’t disappoint, but the star of the film is Jason Robards, whose less-than-stellar parenting skills come home to roost as he watches his now-grown kids deal with their offspring and other problems. Through the drama, he develops into a great grandpa. This movie is probably best for kids tween age and up.
“Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”: One of the late Gene Wilder’s best-known and loved films, “Willie Wonka” is the story of Charlie and his impoverished but loving family and the adventure that results when Grandpa Joe (Jack Albertson) scrapes together the money to buy a chocolate bar for his grandson, in the hopes that it will contain a coveted “golden ticket.” For all ages.
“Little Miss Sunshine”: Granted, this quirky film about a dysfunctional family on a road trip to a kids’ beauty pageant might not be the first one you think of when the word “grandparent” comes to mind. But Alan Arkin, as Abigail Breslin’s ever-supportive (yet drug addicted) grandfather, can’t be beat. This is for teens and older.
“Misty”: If you want to go a little more old-school, this 1961 film based on Marguerite Henry’s children’s book “Misty of Chincoteague” (all of your horse-obsessed friends read it over and over) should make everyone happy. An orphaned brother and sister go to live with their grandparents on the island of Chincoteague in Virginia. The siblings befriend a wild mare on nearby Assateague Island and come to own the mare’s foal, Misty. The story, by the way, is based on the real lives of a brother and a sister.
“Son of a Son of a Sailor,” Jimmy Buffett: Jimmy Buffett and life on the water. How much more South Mississippi can you get? Well, of course, the locale for this song, as well as most Buffett songs, is more tropical, but we’re close enough. Though a grandfather is never named, the lyrics make it clear this guy is just carrying on a family tradition of traveling from port to port.
“Silent House,” Dixie Chicks: Have the tissues ready when you hear this song. It’s about a beloved grandmother whose remnants of her life, now trapped within the grip of Alzheimer’s, lie in fragments in her house. “And I’ll remember the years when your mind was clear; how the laughter and life filled up this silent house.”
“Grandma’s Hands,” Bill Withers: Don’t put the tissue up just yet. You’ll need it for this song, too. The singer/songwriter’s strong, faith-filled grandmother, “this favorite old lady of mine,” as he has described her, is the subject. He hopes to see her again someday: “If I get to heaven I’ll look for Grandma’s hands.”
“Raymond,” Brett Eldredge: OK, just leave the tissue right there. Catherine Davis, room 303, is a resident of a nursing home where the singer works and leads hymns on Sundays. Catherine thinks he’s her son Raymond and gets confused about what year it is. “She calls me Raymond, and that’s all right by me.” If you’re looking for a way to bless someone in a personal care facility, this song should inspire you. The official video is especially well made.
“Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Ol’ Days),” The Judds: When you were little, did you ever ask your grandparents about what life was like when they were your age? Here, the mother-sister act talk to their elders, adult to adult. There’s a wistfulness to the words: “Grandpa, everything is changing fast; we call it progress, but I just don’t know. And Grandpa, let’s wander back into the past and paint me the picture of long ago.”