This generation of “Me” is probably the greatest comedian in the history of mankind. It isn’t the kind of comic that learns through mimicry of those that came before them. It isn’t a genius type of humor that comes from knowing the ironies of life and knowing exactly how to express it. It is a type of humor that comes gushing from the very core of who they are. It is a sort of giftedness of mind that takes on a life of its own. Whenever I find myself in conversation with them, I walk away with a twisted face and distorted mouth in disbelief. I feel like I’ve been hit with the truck of nonsense on the road to alien forces beyond comprehension. It’s like they weren’t even born on the same planet; some alien specie of disbelief. From the 16 year old who demanded that her parents rent Main Street and buy a red carpet so she could make an entrance on her birthday, to the social media madman who gives undying details of his life to all of his thousand plus online friends for the ten thousandth time, the new generation of young millennials who are becoming parents crack me up.
This Christmas, I hit a new physical obstacle. Ceramic tile dresses my small kitchen and after standing for two days on my kitchen floor, ” aching feet” took on a whole new meaning. I thought my big toes were going to fall off. If my husband had not been there, I would have taken a butcher knife to them. The labor of love I gave to my family that day to feed and conquer their empty stomach on Christmas morning took my feet with it into a nightmare of sacrifice. Sitting down only made them hurt that much more. I was on my feet for two days and I was in my pocket book for over a month, diving into my retirement savings with joy as I pounded the pavement to fulfill the wishes of my children this Christmas. They all live in different and unique situations. Those situations include a daughter who is a single mom, fighting her own battles with a drugged out ex-husband, an innocent granddaughter battling treatment for leukemia and her parents, a son-in-law with anxiety issues that cloud his ability to act appropriately in public, and a daughter with a personality so red it belongs in the blood sucking category. I love them still and the act of giving never falters no matter what the circumstance or the level of compassion called for. This is family and my generation knows the meaning.
But my generation is dying of those old age diseases that hit during a time in life that we never thought we would ever live to see; our sixties. The definition of family changed somewhere in between the fifties babies and the nineties babies. Family in my time was something to stay true to, to never falter from. The new definition of family is something to fulfill your own needs. It’s not the same thing. Hosting a group of 20 people and fulfilling their wishes for the holidays is never easy, especially when you care to a fault. I think my son-in-law’s mother said it best. “Having children takes some of the life force out of you.” I tried hard to dismiss her words into a mistaken construct of love out of the joy of sacrifice. However, this Christmas knocked me to my senses. She is right, by gum. And now I know.
It is an odd generation as they live their simulated lives after receiving smart locks and thousand dollar telephones the week before Christmas. When a package arrives for the baby boomers, we don’t know about it until we get home. The millennials and “Mes” open their houses and watch the delivery driver put it inside their homes that they unlock from 20 miles away. They, then relock the door behind the delivery service as a camera watches their every move. Nice. It is a science fiction world run by a science fiction generation. Everything is at their command. But Visiting mothers on Christmas morning is a chore. No matter how many times I appeal to the reality that life is short, that little voice in their head keeps telling them that life is theirs even more than it is short.
When my son or daughter pleads for sympathy because they want to keep Christmas in their own way and leave behind my hospitality every other year, or every year for that matter, I simply reply that I know nothing. You learn quickly to never give advice to this generation. They are wise beyond their parent’s reason. So I begin every sentence with caution. This time is no exception. “I know nothing.” This sentence seems to go over the best with them, any time I want to make a point through my “senile” wisdom. Once I confess to knowing nothing, I have their attention because it is something they agree with. “I know nothing, but I do know this…” Then I lay it on them. “I know that I would give ten years of my life, and that’s probably about the same number of Christmases we have left together,” then I reiterate, “I know nothing but I do know this, I would give ten years of my life to just have one more Christmas with my mother. And Son, I can promise you this. I promise that one day this time crunch on Christmas Day will not be a problem. It happens fast, in the blink of an eye and this phase of your life will be gone. ”
The response is typical for the “Mes”. They come back with the most hilarious line in the history of comedy. Even as my feet still ache, not yet recovered, I hear the actual enunciation of the nonsense sentence. “It’s easy for you. All you have to do is sit around and wait for people to show up.”
Meanwhile, over fifteen hundred dollars of my retirement has been given away, another piece of my health is lost somewhere in that ceramic tiled floor, and another part of my life force is beyond recovery. Even as he spoke these words the day after Christmas, I’m still trying to catch my breath. Next year, I will probably cater some more. Meanwhile I wonder where they get their reality. It is obvious to me and this is my confession this holiday season. It really is the baby boomers’ fault in our humility and obsessive need to give. Is there joy in this giving? Perhaps the jury is still out on that one, while once again my New Year resolution is to stop giving to a fault and to the ungrateful. But how does a baby boomer stop? How can we possibly stop? Maybe we should take some advice from our children so we can learn some attributes of the “Mes”. Stop giving and perhaps there is less for them to take for granted. In this way, we can save them while we can.