Grandparents Day is a day for celebrating the connections between the generations, and its origin was decidedly noncommercial.
The roots of Grandparents Day go back to 1956 and a West Virginia mother named Marian McQuade. While helping to organize a community celebration for those over 80, she became aware of the many nursing home residents who were forgotten by their families. She wanted a holiday to honor all grandparents. In 1973 West Virginia became the first state to have such a day, and McQuade and others shifted their efforts to the national level, achieving success in 1978. The purpose of the holiday, as stated in the preamble to the statute, is "to honor grandparents, 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."
According to the website of the National Grandparents Day Council, McQuade refused all royalties and even donations associated with her efforts.
Today many families celebrate Grandparents Day by giving gifts to grandparents. It is equally in keeping with the spirit of the holiday for grandparents to give gifts to their grandchildren, especially gifts that celebrate family traditions. Of course, the best gift of all is to be able to have the family together on this special holiday.