A gentle rain at sunrise rejuvenates like a midnight turkey sandwich on Thanksgiving, each calmly lulling us into savoring moments of annual rewrites to embolden our Happy New Year resolutions.
When I was growing up my cousins headed off to Grandma’s house for a two week slice of summer vacation “in the country,” but my parents wouldn’t let me “be a burden” to her, until all the cousins, aunts and uncles assailed The Holidays, “over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go,” at Christmas.
From Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day it seemed every Italian we knew from Miami to NYC descended upon “the big house,” to enforce “tis the season to be jolly.” When I crossed over the border into double digits, my life was absorbed into a maze of dos and don’ts strung in a red, white and blue reflection from a round black and white TV screen, telling “stories” to old people about young people.
To a pre-teen, the only thing people over 50 talked about was how far they had to walk to school in the cold wintry months of snow and ice and how hard they had to work so that I wouldn’t have to. As for me, Mom had told me, at four, on my very first ever school day, I insisted on walking alone, so what was the big deal?
As teenager I pretended to listen to the same stories, my 50 plus elders repeated after holiday stuffing, until my fourteenth Thanksgiving, when Mom added a new epilogue to the story of my first school day solo hike. She confessed to following me the four city blocks, unseen on the opposite side of the street. Moms! Just when you think you can do it without them.
In 1962, people over 50 went to church to talk to God about Communism, Cuban missiles and UN shoe banging. A year later their tears flowed openly over Dallas bullets, giving birth to 24/7 news and ending my family holidays. Post Nixon preamble to America’s 200th birthday, there was only talk of Watergate and Florida solutions from the half century crowd.
Final separation came with eighties realization that “government was the problem,” but the weirdest change, people over 50 started looking more like me, echoing the wisdom of my last Thanksgiving with my Grandmamma. After 1978, it seemed smarter to pay attention to those with crow’s feet.
At the dawning of the age of 21st century baby boomers resisting silver heads and golden years with exercise killing knees, elbows and lower backs, I skirted around their edges with the plan to drop dead working at what I loved, telling teens, “People with gray hair rule the world and when you get some, maybe you can join the club.”
Now, at 54, body parts seem not to recharge as quickly as before, I’ve discovered we are the sum total of our intake and experiences, so I try ignoring mirror reflections limited to proving “the child is father to the man.”
Grandchildren insist I use a stylus with my new Christmas iPod, but I fail to understand why I should find a tiny screen preferable to something I can see. Still, looking within but not behind, I relive the Zorro I was and Quixote I might have been.
So with swords unseen for years, shield off retirement paradise lost talk, and answer the call to slay bullying Banksta dragons of Corporatism – protecting our young, as people over 50 have always done.