As a boy, the holiday family gathering routine was simple and consistent: There was one feast for my mother’s side and one for my father’s side. And all three of my brothers and one sister would enjoy the two occasions with both sets of cousins.
Despite a couple of my parents’ siblings usually being absent at these events–not to mention never once seeing my grandparents’ siblings for holidays–the idea of one day not being around my brothers and sister on these special days didn’t cross my mind.
But then a funny thing happened: We grew up.
My older sister married. Then my older brother. They started families of their own, and so, along with their spouses, they were to provide for their children both sides of the family holiday gathering coin. Meanwhile, my parents became the grandparents. So now Mom and Dad host all us children and grandchildren–and usually without any of their siblings present anymore. (Bonus: I’m blessed to still have three grandparents in my life, but they’ve since passed down the holiday hosting torch, with each of their children now able to enjoy a home filled with children and grandchildren.)
When it comes to how such gatherings work, each generation seems to have its role until another generation comes along to take its place. And as one works their way up the generation ladder, holiday gatherings increasingly become defined by those on the lower rungs (by creating your own family) as well as by the direction one takes in life as an adult (i.e. moving away and so not being around). With three of our five siblings now having families of their own, and hundreds of miles separating some of our homes, getting all five of us together becomes increasingly rare.
But we all got together this past Thanksgiving weekend, which made for a special holiday and a reason to be grateful indeed.
The above was derived from my weekly letter to family, friends, and readers. I call it The Sunday Evening Post, and if you’d like to receive it, please email me indicating so at firstname.lastname@example.org.