INSPIRED INGENUITYThe table is dressed with the linen table cloth handed down from grandma’s grandma. The millennials’ dinner contributions come in deli containers. The baby boomers deliver theirs in Tupperware. The greatest Generations is in the kitchen cooking all their contributions, and a Gen Z cousin brings a skittle casserole he insisted was a secret recipe he found on the internet.

Yes, some believe the internet is full of secrets and truth. I guess you could say earlier generations believed that about newspapers: if it was printed, it must be true, and if proof were not available, faith would take over one’s ability to rationalize. As the family meets and discusses the world around them, some will be right, and of course, some will be considered crazy, and others will be silent for fear of banishment.

This Thanksgiving, like all those before, will be our chance to reminisce on what was, share our plans on what will be, see family members we hide from all year, and eat like polar bears getting ready for winter. We will hear about the cousin things which shock grandma, some will talk about the breakup of a sibling and the getting back together of another, and yes, the aunt who recently married the man younger than her nephews decided to surprise everyone by bringing him to dinner. They arrived in an electric car, so of course one of the granddad’s insisted he should find an extension cord to recharge the car.

As far as the cousin who works in the fields of shell oil he just laughed and assumed his aunt’s new husband was a tree hugger. He was sure the new guy would avoid drinking the Budweiser in the shell cooler on the patio, he thought, of course, a tree hugger with an electric car would only drink wine. However later in the evening an arm wrestling match between the rigger and the tree hugger, the rigger found out how strong his younger new uncle is, and all his old aunts began comparing their baby boomer husbands to what could be possible.

Back in the den, the greatest generation and their baby boomer kids are watching a football game they insist the volume should constantly increase competing with the aunt who moved to New Jersey years earlier now bringing back home her louder than normal voice. The millennials are playing Xbox the Gen Z’ers brought their robots they are maneuvering around the room all equipped with cameras so just use your imagination on what these Gen Z’ers think is entertaining or what they believe is appropriate to put on Facebook.

Soon everyone recognizes the voices of the family’s favorite guests — the neighbors who have lived next door for thirty years. They either have no family of their own or decided it was much more entertaining eating next door. Every year they come and sit in no judgment. They just take it all in, and more than likely they come to witness the complexity of the family drama they are thankful is missing from their quiet lives, or secretly they dream it was their life.

The smokers gather on the porch, and it seems the tobacco smell brings back memories to some the baby boomers chewing Nicorette gum, and those from the greatest generation sitting in a chair with their oxygen. The cousin from Denver lights his pipe, which does not represent the looks of the pipe all the grandpa’s used in their day the water it required confused some and, forces one granddad to start a conversation about Nancy Reagan and why just saying no to drugs worked in his day.

Of course, like any family gathering, the passions and arguments of individualism sooner or later merge with the calmness of compassion inherent in most families, or it could be the calming brought on by a gut full of turkey, causing most to forget each other’s shortcomings as they plan next year’s dinner

As the family ages, the holiday gathering will change venues. Some will become isolated by their circumstances; some will begin their own family’s tradition. They become the grandparents; they use the linen tablecloth from their parents stored now in their attic. The Millennials become the older generation, and the Gen Z  will continue scaring the generations before them. More than likely, many won’t eat turkey, as stuffed spinach and other new recipes will replace the Plymouth Rock Recipe Book. Time transitions all things, even traditions. We all have the power to create something new which then becomes the new tradition, or simply just something new and different for now. The look of the family will continue changing. The attitudes of the generations will always challenge each other’s relevance. The melting pot of generations is a family’s greatest asset, and the divided we earn is when we gather.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Steve DiGioia

Ray, you wrote a wonderful and descriptive account of why Thanksgiving is the most cherished time. Well done. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Ken Vincent
Ken Vincent

A well written piece and oh so true. Hidden in that writing, intended or not, is the reality that family members are high maintenance and largely dysfunctional as a constant unit.

Close families endure their individual failings and while that can be frustrating and stressful, they are there for each other in times of crisis.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Thanks Ken great observation

Bharat Mathur

What a wonderful rendition of one of the biggest annual family traditions! Remarkable sense of humour adds to the value you so touchingly brought up for all to share, Ray! I see a beautifully woven tapestry of the changing values from generation to generation.
Thanks a lot!