Do baby boomers remember how to be thankful?

We’ve all probably experienced family drama on the holidays. And with Thanksgiving right around the corner, many of us are likely to experience it again. That’s what New Yorker Ellen Alexander bemoans, for BoomerCafé.

Once a year on Thanksgiving, baby boomers join the rest of their fellow indulgers as they sit around a large table filled to overflowing with an abundance of food. They begin the meal by loosening their belts, knowing they’re about to gorge on tryptophan-laden turkey and countless side dishes… and knowing that soon, the very same table will eventually be reset with a buffet of desserts.

However, the true focus of this day should be about giving thanks. It’s not a custom in every home and it shouldn’t only happen once a year. But it usually does, if it happens at all. And it goes something like this:

“I’m thankful for… My family; My health; This food.”

But what we’re really thinking is, “I’m thankful for… The big screen on we’re about to watch the football game; The excuse to yell and scream at my family members (which is to be expected and somehow okay on the holidays); The weight I will enjoy putting on today because I can always go back to dieting tomorrow.”

Like most holidays, we’ve lost sight of their true meaning. They’ve become commercialized, money-oriented, and largely NOT having much to do with why we’re supposed to be gathering to celebrate in the first place. And boomers, in particular, have witnessed firsthand how this holiday has woefully progressed throughout the years.

When we were younger, we were delegated to the children’s table, an accepted practice that allowed grownups to drink and argue to their hearts’ content while basically ignoring the food fighting and hierarchy happening outside of their periphery. As we grew into our ‘socialization’ stage of life, where we gained newfound significance to others in the room because we now ruled over our own children, we emulated our elders by making merry while leaving our progeny to their own devices (and, in these days of technology, that term is quite literal).

Holidays that once-upon-a-time sufficed as single-day observances in our youth have now stretched into months-long events. Between over-advertising, non-stop caroling, and decorating everything in sight, it’s all a bit nauseating. And, instead of spending the entire day with friends and family, we’re more apt to cut it deliberately short so that we can spend it out shopping for the next ‘big’ day.

Ellen Alexander

So, what’s the solution? We could volunteer at a soup kitchen or donate canned goods at any number of locations to ease our conscience. We could get our ‘drunk uncle’ to rehab so we don’t have a repeat performance the following year. Or we could simply choose to set a better example for the next generation.

Here’s a unique perspective: we could genuinely like the people we’re surrounded by and enjoy a pleasant meal with easy-flowing conversation. Most likely though, at the end of the day, our thanks giving will really just be a self-giving of yet another year of excess and overindulgence.

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