The table is dressed with the linen table cloth handed down from grandma’s grandma. The centerpiece came from grandma’s attic. The millennials’ dinner contributions come in deli containers. The baby boomers deliver theirs in Tupperware. The skittle casserole that a Gen Z cousin insisted was a secret recipe they 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 books: if it was printed, it must be true, and if proof was 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.
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, the breakup of one sibling and the getting back together of another, and yes, the drunk uncle who recently married the drunk lady he lives next door to, oh, and bringing her to dinner would be his surprise.
The baby boomers are watching a football game, and most are hard of hearing, which causes an increase in volume competing with the aunt who moved to New Jersey years earlier now bringing back home her loud voice. The millennials are playing Xbox with the Gen Z, hoping that they never transition in looks or act like their relatives in the kitchen complaining about how hard their lives are and how lazy the younger generation is.
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 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 family drama they are thankful is missing from their quiet lives.
The smokers gather on the porch, and it seems the tobacco smell brings back memories to the baby boomers, as a cousin from Denver lights his pipe, which does not represent the looks of the pipe all their dead grandpas used. It seems like in school all the cool people were the smokers, or is it just they all have one thing in common? Killing themselves is more satisfying, as they listen and participate in the arguments of relatives reliving why they don’t trust or even like those they call family. Of course, like any family gathering, the passions 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. It’s the family drama that attempts to describe the family. It’s the attitude of the individual which allows them to define their family.
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 table cloth from their parents stored now in their attic. The Millennials become the older generation, and the Gen Z are still defining what their generation will be known for. 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 may then become a 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 in which each of us is invested, and our divided is paid when we gather invest wisely. Happy Thanksgiving.