Friday, August 15, 2008

A Grandparents Day Tradition

NF Note: How many of you know the county in which the movement began for "Grandparents Day" If you said Fayette, then you were correct. What? Oh-- Fayette County, West Virginia--- not our Fayette County, Georgia! This year the celebration is on September 7th.

BUSINESS WIRE --Grandparents Day has traditionally been a day honoring grandparents, celebrating family traditions, and reminiscing about “the old days.”

Interestingly, one of the most popular and appropriate gifts this year for Grandparents Day is something that shares the holiday’s roots in family heritage and the breadth of generational differences--the African violet.

Providing a recognizable link for many generations itself, the African violet, described as “the house pet of houseplants,” elicits memories of our mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and grandfathers. The violet lends a personal touch to homes where many of us remember the flower on our parents’ or grandparents’ windowsill. And it has a diverse and rich family heritage all its own, with names and flowers that evoke its own ancestors.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the first National Grandparents Day, traditionally celebrated on the first Sunday after Labor Day. Its history and the efforts to establish the holiday are almost as old as the modern cultivation of the African violet.

The idea for Grandparents Day originated from an annual celebration exclusive to those 80 years and older. Grandparents Day founder, Marian McQuade, has spent decades honoring the heritage of the elderly and uniting generations. Throughout her life, she has been recognized for her humanitarian efforts, with the elderly. Her efforts were finally rewarded and in 1978, President Carter signed a law to establish the first National Grandparents Day.

Although the popularity of the African violet continues to grow, this is not just your grandmother’s violet. Since its discovery by a German colonial governor during the late 19th century, the flower has been cultivated into a multitude of colors and sizes. Scientists and violet enthusiasts alike have spent years crossbreeding to produce a diverse and vigorous breed of African violets, including bi-colored flowers.

African violet expert, Reinhold Holtkamp, comments on the therapeutic value of the plant: “It’s like the starter plant for budding green thumbs, one that emboldens people for more technically challenging garden therapy.” Holtkamp is president of Holtkamp Greenhouses in Nashville, Tennessee. The company is now 104-years old and has become the largest grower of African violets in the world.

The Holtkamp family has perfected their brand of Optimara African violets, a more stable and enhanced version to those years ago. Optimara offers pre-packaged plants, allowing for minimal set-up and maintenance.

Grandparents Day…a day to celebrate all things beautiful. Our family’s heritage, the commitment and devotion of Marian McQuade and the joy that comes from a simple gift, like an African violet.

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