This November, for the first time in 25 years, my husband and I traveled back east for Thanksgiving.
It’s not that we don’t visit family a few times a year, but it always seemed that traveling from Los Angeles to Boston on one of the most heavily traveled weekends of the year was a recipe for disaster.
But this year, since my mom decided she and my dad could no longer make the trip to her brother’s for their normal celebration, my sisters and I decided to bring Thanksgiving to my parents.
Paula, my sister from Connecticut, brought a 26-pound turkey and 12 pounds of roast beef. Carla, my sister in New Hampshire, made enough desserts to fill a football stadium. We had 14 people for dinner, ranging in age from 17 to 83.
Observing the differences in the thoughts and activities of three generations during a full-day celebration was like watching three genres of movies simultaneously.
At one point, I noticed my 17-year-old niece and her cousin sitting next to each other on the couch, never making eye contact but intently staring at their smartphones, texting away to friends.
Even though the house was roasting, the boyfriend of my 24-year old niece did not want to take off his sweater because he feared what my 80-year-old parents would think of his tattoos.
The food choices also spoke volumes.
The “kids,” ages 17 to 33, were in charge of appetizers. Spicy chili- cheese dip was on the menu, beloved by the younger crowd but sure to incite heartburn in the tummies of the older generations.
I tried to unite the family with a game called Table Topics: Questions to Start Great Conversations. After about three questions, I soon realized only one of my sisters remained. Little did I know the game would turn out to be a good way to clear a room.
But there were some uniting elements, too—specifically, the presence of an 8-pound Yorkie- Maltese mix and the absence of turkey basters.
Stanley (the dog, not the turkey baster) is a new addition to the household of my niece and her tattooed boyfriend. Sort of a trial run at parenting, I suppose.
Everyone wanted to hold and cuddle this little ball of fur. I think Stanley allowed everyone to express love and affection in a nonthreatening way.
As for the turkey basters, each generation had a different reason for not owning one.
According to the younger folks, most 20-somethings order takeout or cook in the microwave, so they have no need for a turkey baster.
My boomer sister doesn’t make turkeys or roasts anymore because she doesn’t expect to corral her husband and two recent college grad kids into the same room at the same time for a sit-down meal anytime soon. So no turkey baster at her house.
And my mom sold her baster at a yard sale because, she said, “Who cooks a whole roast or turkey for just two people when they normally share one meal?”
We sent my husband to the grocery store in a mad scramble to see if he could find one. There wasn’t one to be purchased within a 20-mile radius.
So an idea for the supermarket people: Rather than deeply discounting turkeys or offering a free turkey with the purchase of $200 worth of groceries, add a free turkey baster to next year’s promotion. If left it up to the current generation, the turkey baster would soon be extinct.
In an ironic twist, as the 14 of us were crowded into my parents’ 1,200-square-foot house, we looked outside and saw a rafter of 21 wild turkeys. They were enjoying the sunshine, not feeling the least bit intimidated that this was Thanksgiving Day.
Nor the least bit disturbed that this community has run out of turkey basters.