Yesterday was Thanksgiving. As with this year, me and my immediate family members usually spend the day at my Grandmother’s house, along with a sparse selection of relatives (typically the same ones make an appearance every year. This year, however, all of my Grandmother’s children, all of my aunts and uncles, were able to make it out for the feast. This was also the first time that my nieces were able to spend Thanksgiving with our family, instead of their father’s family. I believe, actually that the last time we were all together like this for a holiday was when the youngest generation was still in grade school. So, it was interesting to see the interactions with the newly formed adulthood generation. It is also interesting to see the distinct changes, as well. All of our parents started having children in their early-to-mid 20’s. There was about a 10-year range between the older and younger group of siblings and cousins in our generation (very similar to the age range of all these brothers and sisters – our parents, aunts and uncles). However, with our generation there is only a small handful that has actually started families of their own. Most of us are mid-20’s to 30’s, but we are definitely waiting longer than our parents did to settle down and start families of our own. Another interesting factor is seeing the interaction with those that used to order us around as kids and their slow realization now that we are adults. It is apparently pretty tough to handle for some, but a Godsend for others, as it just means there are more of us to step up and take responsibility for preparations, cooking, cleaning, etc. It is amazing to watch a family grow up during the years, and to see the different role and responsibility changes, to see children become parents, and parents becoming children again. It is interesting to watch elders react to the reality that all of their little kids are growing up and growing old as well. No longer do they run up to you when they’ve skinned their knee or have any other problem. Now, they just give the feedback and results of the actions they took themselves. In one way, for our generation, it is a relief to finally be treated with a little respect and regard, to allow our opinions to be taken seriously, instead of just being sent outdoors to play while the adults figured everything out. However, it is also a reminder that we will one day be sitting back, watching our children take over everything that we once did. I don’t know if that is pleasant, or not. I’m sure that most parents would welcome the thought of being able to take it easy around holiday seasons, so that their children can take care of everything. Is it really a relief, though? The older I get, the more I come to respect and enjoy the company of all my relatives, especially in group settings such as this. Every family has their differences, not all people get along all the time, but I love the opportunity to virtually glance down the timeline that is kept witch each passing generation – with what we’ve learned, what we’ve lost, what has made a difference in the way we work things out, and what has been passed on. I think that families are a lot more successful at this type of growth than entire cultures and societies. It is easier to learn from history within a close-knit community (as in a family) than as a larger group, culture, race or being. It seems, sometimes, to stop at the family level, though, and that’s unfortunate. Maybe one day we will learn to break that barrier, and will be able to use history for what it is really worth.
November 23, 2007