Magazine article Insight on the News

Spirits of Seasons Past Help New Generation Face Future

Magazine article Insight on the News

Spirits of Seasons Past Help New Generation Face Future

Article excerpt

The interregnum between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a season when the emotions sometimes disconnect.

Our family feasts bring together two, three and four generations, exchanging love and gossip, catching up on what everybody's doing and where. The eldest among us are conscious of those who can no longer join us. The list grows longer with each season, which becomes more melancholy with the passage of the years.

My mother, a vigorous woman at 85, reminisces about her family of seven who grew up in the small, rural community of Drayton, Ontario, near Toronto, where the snow was so high that her father used to carry his tiniest son on his shoulders to let him see above the white banks. The whole family walked into town in a careful line, one after the other according to their graduated heights, on an expedition to the general store to buy winter boots.

"Here comes Mary, Charlie, Annie, Sadie, Abie, Jakie, Benny," they shouted with mirth, the voices of children filled with adventure and expectation, delighted by the puffs of frosted air exploding in front of their faces.

"Now there's only Sadiel" my mother says sadly "I was in the middle, but I'm the only one left."

She has four great grandchildren with a fifth on the way and she thrives on the joys of the extended family, but memories of holidays past sometimes overwhelm her.

Her daughter wears the metaphorical two-sided mask of Janus, the god of January who looks both ways, back at years past and forward to the future. Only now does she begin to understand the pith of the well-known bit of folk wisdom -- that youth truly is wasted on the young. If only she knew then what she knows now. What else is new?)

The rising generation of young adults, of course, is old enough to show respect for their elders and to seek advice from them, yet remain perplexed about the larger questions "Did you really think the Beatles were revolutionary?" they ask. Is it really true that when Elvis Presley appeared on television, the cameras showed him only above the waist? (Yes, children, 'tis true.

Every generation arrives with its own brand of innocence -- and its own ability (and eagerness) to shock. …

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