Now, that we have survived election season and have gone directly into the Holiday Season, we can tip this time of mass marketing of purchasing to our advantage by employing the celebratory mood to give thanks to those who have helped us on our journeys–especially our parents, grandparents, and other significant family members.
If we can move pass the stresses of gifts, parties, and awkward moments with relatives, we can seize the Holiday Season as an opportunity to slow down a bit and to extend our circle of interactions to thank those who have helped us develop our values, moral compasses, and foundations that guide and gird us through our education, careers, raising families, and the time when we ourselves strive to pass on legacies.
I join many Baby-Boomers in attending one too many funerals of parents of my friends. As I listen to those who recount the lives of these parents, it became clearer than ever that we owe so much to the generation born in the 1920s and 1930s. They were those in our families who weathered wars, economic depressions, and the unrelenting Industrial Age. It is interesting to note that this generation is often called the “Silent Generation,” or the “Traditional Generation,” yet, their legacies speak for themselves.
Our parents and their parents worked long, hard hours, often without complaining, paid cash before credit cards became the norm, sacrificed dreams and luxuries for their children, and believed that the future would be better –if they just did their parts in small ways.
Although they were born before it was possible to take “selfies” with cell phones, the unrelenting hopes and legacies of love that our parents and grandparents left us can be recounted in detail by some of us. There were parents who worked two jobs to help make possible college educations for their “Baby Boomer” children. There were parents and grandparents who were wounded in wars while fighting courageously for our rights to pursue our American Dreams. There were uncles and aunts who passed from our lives unheralded, but who also labored for us, and guided us, in quiet, but dignified ways.
This Holiday Season, as we carve turkeys and pass around the sides, I hope we take a moment to give thanks to those who left us these foundational legacies of hope and love. As we pay our respects to their legacies, we cannot help but thank them for believing in the possibilities of our country, for returning to their farms to feed a nation, for bearing the indignities that only humans can inflict upon each other because of racial and class differences. Most of all, I hope we thank them for stubbornly clinging to the belief that their sacrifices would lead to a better America for their children.
As we know, the Silent Generation had their personal and cultural struggles, and they gave birth to the more vocal and dramatic Baby Boomers who helped America evolve into a more diverse and future-oriented nation. As a member of the Baby Boomers generation, I hope that Generation X and the Millennial Generation will advance positive social action, embrace the sacrifices they will face to advance and sustain the ideals of our nation, and pay it forward to the next generations of leaders.
When you think of the “presents” we have already been given, the Holiday Season can truly be a time of celebrations!