Yep, another Holiday Season is upon us. Many of us Boomers are laying back and enjoying the fruits of our loins… I mean, labors. Our kids and grandkids will be assembling at our feet, presents and good tidings of joy will abound, and the air will be filled with the aroma of the feast to follow.
Ok.. not to be the doom-and-gloom guy here but the reality is that not everyone will be a part of that picture this year. I mean, I’m not talking about the homeless or the seasonal depressionists or those whose families have abandoned them. I am talking about those of us who over the years who have fallen victim to our mobile, transient society. Let’s face it, how many people our age do you know who do live near their kids or grandkids? Not many, if any. When we were starting our own families mega-years back in time we were the ones who started the mobile population… or what I call “family scatter”. We married and then left the confines of our birthplaces to blaze new life trails across the country… and the beat goes on to this day.
It’s not that our extended families have left us spiritually, but it’s just that the pursuit of happiness is different for each of us. But what has changed is the desire to travel seasonally. I mean, back when we got married and moved away from home there was a general effort for us to visit our parents for the Holidays, or in the least, we managed to get them to visit us. But it seems with our own spawn, who have followed in our footsteps and ran off to the sun belt, Bible belt, mortgage belt, fan belt, or whatever belt has attracted them, there’s less of the desire to get together with mom and dad for the holidays these days… and less of the imposition of guilt from mom and dad to try and get them to meet us. Why?
I’m guessing it has a lot to do with the economy and the general difficulty in taking a plane ride in the middle of the Holiday season… for parents and kids alike. I mean. who looks affectionately at buying plane tickets that total nearly $1,000 – $1,500 (funny how no one adds that to the cost of Christmas gift giving), having to pack up a young family of four or five, with all the bags, strollers, and carry-on family support items and check-in bags, to fly in a plane at the most crowded time of the year with the most intense security in history.
Perhaps mom and dad should go visit the kids, you say? Well, mom and dad are not as spry and agile as they once were so there’s less stamina for standing in the lines and having to remove clothing, and lugging around carry-on bags because check-in rates are so expensive. Being on fixed incomes, the $600-$900 for a pair of tickets is not a drop in the bucket either. It’s no wonder fewer families want to travel at Holiday time.
So we hunker down and tell the kids to “save your money, there will be other Christmas’s”, and we pack up the few gifts for the grandkids and send Christmas to them (still funny no one counts the price of delivery as part of gift giving). But there is a light shining through all this.. a beacon of hope. The one thing every parent likes to receive at Christmas and that is cheap to send… the gift card (that is, if you can get past the guilt/embarrassment of placing a real dollar value to your gift giving rather than giving a real gift and letting the recipient presume you paid more than you did).
So I joined the throngs of humanity who shunned the airlines and TSA and the long lines and the baggage handlers… and I stayed home and sent out gift cards.
But you know what? I miss the kids.