A grandmother and grandmother take a selfie with their grandson and granddaughter

Lili – September 4, 2018

I think my girls are very lucky to have a grandmother like my Mor. While she may not exactly be their go-to person in times of crisis (Anna just broke her up with long-time boyfriend), she’s always there to listen or offer a hug and some home-made Vaniljekranse cookies.

Maybe that’s why they always make sure the three of them are together on Grandparents’ Day, which falls on the first Sunday after Labor Day – September 9th this year.

I used to think it was just a “Hallmark holiday,” but it turns out that’s not the case. Grandparents’ Day started in 1979 after many years of campaigning by a grandmother from West Virginia named Marian Lucille Herndon McQuade, with the support of her husband Joseph. The couple had 15 children, 43 grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild! They were married for 60 years.

When President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the first National Grandparents’ Day, he said: “Grandparents are our continuing tie to the near-past, to the events and beliefs and experiences that so strongly affect our lives and the world around us. Whether they are our own or surrogate grandparents who fill some of the gaps in our mobile society, our senior generation also provides our society a link to our national heritage and traditions.”

A photo of former President Jimmy Carter accompanies a quote from him about the importance of grandparents.

Former President Jimmy Carter instituted Grandparents’ Day in 1979.

He fittingly chose the date to signify the “autumn” years of life.

When my daughters Anna and Olivia were in elementary school, their teachers always marked the day with special events in honor of grandparents or anyone who played a grandparent role in the children’s lives.

Most years, my Mor would visit their classes to tell stories. Sometimes she even told them about the pioneering spirit of my two-times great-grandmother Margrethe Olsen, who was one of the founders of The Danish Home. If I ever helped out in the girls’ classroom, they seemed to be embarrassed, yet when Mormor turned up, they couldn’t have been more excited than if the Queen of Denmark herself had arrived!

Grandparents have always been held in high esteem in Denmark. What’s “mor,” Danes are “farmor” specific in the way they identify their grandparents. In America, we refer to a female grandparent as “grandmother” and a male grandparent as “grandfather,” which doesn’t indicate whether they are our maternal or paternal grandparents. In Denmark, however, paternal grandparents are “farfar” and “farmor” (“far” means father; “mor” means mother), and maternal grandparents are “morfar” and “mormor.”

Danes also really appreciate the skills, traditions and values they have learned from their grandparents. As in any country, grandparents are the grownups children get to have fun with, leaving their parents to do the policing. As our parents and grandparents get older and in need of more care, it’s good to think we can give back to them. It’s our turn now to help them, just as they helped us when we were younger.

A Danish man smiles for the camera

The Viking Chef” Stig Hansen will treat guests of The Danish Home’s “Cuisine and Corks” annual benefit to wonderful Scandinavian fare on September 15th.

As Grandparents’ Day approaches, I’ve decided to treat Mor to a fantastic night out at The Danish Home, where I volunteer with fundraisers and special events. On Saturday, September 15th, The Danish Home is holding its annual benefit, “Cuisine and Corks: An Evening in the Garden and Focus on Our Future.” Once again, professional Danish Chef Stig Hansen, “The Viking Chef,” will be creating some delicious Nordic delights for us to savor, along with wine, beer and premium cocktails from an open bar. Mor was delighted when I told her she would be my guest and said it gave her an excellent idea.

“Since you are treating me, maybe I’ll make my own donation to The Danish Home,” she said. Figuring that many of the residents of The Danish Home are grandparents, Mor said, “It’s a good opportunity to honor and help not only residents, but all the grandparents who have been so special to so many people.” I could tell from the look in her eyes that she was thinking of her own grandmother and her place in The Danish Home history.

“That’s a great idea and one I know will be much appreciated,” I said. “But I thought I was the one helping The Danish Home, not you.”

“That may be true,” Mor said wisely. “But who do you think you inherited that from?”