It was bound to happen, of course. Four of the six original Scott kids and their entourages – from Arkansas, North Carolina, and locations right here in the Buckeye State – descended upon my house for Thanksgiving. It was a rollicking holiday bash, so like the ones we had when our parents were still celebrating with us.
What a motley collection of Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials – with two little Gen Zers entertaining us all. Into my living room full of strategically-placed tables and chairs they transported a feast of traditional foods from my kitchen, which has not yet recovered from the shock of so much real culinary activity. But it was the layers of generations that truly delighted me.
It dawned on me right away that I was the oldest person in attendance. I felt as matriarchal as someone without children of her own can feel. And early on, age became a topic of discussion between myself and the day’s youngest guest.
While eight-year-old Keegan spearheaded table setting duties, her little sister was telling me about her fifth birthday, just one month and one day away. After Olivia demonstrated her upcoming new age with an entire handful of tiny digits, I asked her to guess how old I would be on my next birthday. Her expression was charmingly but completely blank, as she contemplated the incomprehensible. My writing the numerals 7 and 2 provided little help, and I seriously doubted anything more would be accomplished if I flashed seven sets of completely extended fingers plus two. We moved on.
An amazing day unfolded before my eyes. My nieces and nephews, who not so long ago had themselves been just one month and one day from the age of five, paraded around, all tall and adult and Millennial. They talked about grown up things like houses and jobs, as I sat squinting and straining to adjust to their new status in the family hierarchy.
That must have been what my parents experienced with each passing year, marveling at the progress we kids were making while also wondering how time could march by so quickly. And slowly I am discovering that during this, my seventh decade of life, I have become my parents.
For example, I find myself nodding off in the middle of, well, anything. Too often, I awaken to a sewing needle fallen from my hand, a dropped stitch – or several – from my latest knitting project, a lost place in my current novel from the library, TV characters who are not the ones I thought I was watching. And to think that not so many years ago, I smiled smugly at how often my parents periodically but involuntarily drowsed.
I also remember my patronizing attitude toward their considerable collection of empty cottage cheese containers kept for the express purpose of stowing leftovers in the refrigerator. Often exasperated by their number and their clear threat to overtake an entire kitchen counter, I calculated there could never be enough leftovers to fill even a tenth of the salvaged containers. But these two dear Great Depression survivors just could not help themselves.
Here I am now, perhaps a dozen years later, making informal writing tablets for my various authoring projects. I have no idea why. I am at best a casual recyc!er, so my motives are not really to save the planet. We never had sufficient paper for drawing purposes during the River Road years, so that might be the connection. I just know that soon I will possess more stapled-together paper scraps than I will ever be able to fill with rough drafts of “Boomer Blog” articles.
On Thanksgiving I relinquished my TV remote to the football aficionados among us. I have long had a love-hate relationship with my gadget, which I still consider a bit newfangled. Back in the day, my sisters and I fought with each other about who had to change the channel to the other station – of the two we could see on our television set.
As much, however, as I love the remote control of my remote control, I am equally frustrated by its tiny buttons and the microscopic words printed on them. It is positively aging to need a magnifying glass to accomplish some technical television task.
This aging thing has begun to spread through the family, what with the greats-and-grands rivaling the heights of some of my siblings-turned-grandparents. And a couple of weeks ago after our first measurable snow event of the season, my sister and her husband could not explain to each other how their driveway and sidewalk came to be shoveled. Their eventual shocking realization: after years of snow removal for the elderly in the neighborhood, my sister and her husband have become “those people,” the old couple on the corner.
I must report that our lovely Thanksgiving celebration ended on a youthful note of sorts. Olivia and I decided to divide by color the artificial autumn leaves decorating the tables. She counted the number of leaves in each pile, and we recorded the totals on my Kindle calculator. She astonished her mother by counting past twenty a couple of times. She astonished me, after counting 27 orange leaves, by saying: “That’s how old you will be on your birthday!” Hmm, 72…27…if it’s all the same to Olivia, I guess it’s all the same to me!
Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.