Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Pure Applesauce

The beauty of Facebook is being a fly on the wall for people you know but who inhabit a different demographic than you do.

A recent article in the Washington Post entitled "How Millennials are Cooking up New Thanksgiving Traditions" got some millennials in my feed plenty riled up. Witness:

Z: You get fired from the WaPo (or The Atlantic) if you think anything isn't millennials' fault.

P: Surprised they don't have a devoted whippersnapper beat yet.

R: Pure applesauce!

Z: Well, they're not writing for young people, they're writing for boomers who are scared of them and actually pay for newspapers to learn how scared they should be.

I must not have taken my Boomer Booster, because my I can't really cop to any fear of millennials. Occasionally a bit of disdain or pity is directed their way, but afraid of them? Sorry, no. And the reason I read a newspaper is because I appreciate the tactile quality of it and how much more pleasant reading the news is on paper at that size than one more thing to view on a screen.

And something else. If you go back to archives from the '60s and '70s, you'll no doubt uncover articles about how Boomers were reshaping Thanksgiving with new-fangled conveniences such as canned, jelled cranberry sauce or frozen broccoli instead of creamed peas.

Cultural evolution (devolution?), that's all that is, and certainly not millennial-specific.

So we'll move beyond that.

Today, a piece called "Soldiering On for the Kids" details how hordes of Boomers are over having to do the full-on Christmas decoration extravaganza, but still bother to turn their homes into a winter wonderland for the sake of their millennial children, who insist on maintaining the holiday rituals of their rosy-colored childhoods.

Seems plenty of Boomers are downsizing their Christmas decoration stashes, meaning that many thrift stores now get so many donations of blow-up reindeer and Christmas ornaments that they maintain a year-round Christmas department.

Parents are trying to gift their children with decades of holiday paraphernalia (Boomers being up till now the "holders of the legacy") and the millennials are saying no, thanks. But those kids have tiny urban digs and a minimalist aesthetic and want no part of storing Frosty and posse for 11 months of the year.

All they want is for Mom and Dad (or either) to faithfully recreate the elaborate decorating of the house and tree that they remember fondly.

So, I'm reading this and thinking surely it will set off another wave of hilarious commentary posts because while the piece makes the point several times that we're at the point where it's necessary for both generations to decide how to reboot the winter holidays, it could be taken as a millennial issue, much like the Thanksgiving one was.

And it struck me. This is a timeless issue, not another BB versus Mill thing.

My parents are part of the Greatest Generation and they went through a phase when we were in our 20s and 30s where they tried to pawn off some of their vast Christmas inventory to me and my five sisters.

Did we want it? Of course not. We wanted them to continue putting on the ritualized family Christmas that they'd been doing since we were a cohabiting family unit. Granted, some of us did have the legitimate excuse of small, urban apartments at the time but some of my sisters had far more generous houses in the suburbs and they didn't want my parents' decorations and ornaments, either.

Maybe we just wanted to do it our own way, secure in the knowledge that Mom and Dad would maintain the Christmas status quo. Mom's dime store-bought manger scene still delights me for the prices stamped on the bottom of each figure's base (generally 29 cents), all except the baby Jesus, because he doesn't stand on a base.

Maybe you got him free for buying the rest.

Some people stayed out of the fray. I have a friend who married late in life and never bothered to acquire Christmas trappings, which was fine until she had a family and her Mom and Dad decided to visit for Christmas. All of a sudden, she felt obligated to get her first decorations. Oh, the pressure.

I'm willing to bet that in 40 years, the media will still be writing pieces about how the younger generation wants to do things differently than their parents did and trying to make sense of it.

But, wait, aren't generational reactions sort of the point?

It would be wildly amusing to have the analysis of that from our dedicated whippersnapper beat reporter.

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