Dinner time is where the family comes to enjoy food, talk about the events of the day, and sometimes serious discussions emerge. This particular dinner fell into the latter category, in what was an opportunity for me to share, with my children, the Generation X perspective on my parents’ generation.
It started with my son and daughter regaling us with the outing on last Halloween, in which they had a run in with elderly woman. Per the story, a young boy had gone trick or treating early on the evening and had returned to his house. Supposedly this house had run out of candy, and when my children’s entourage arrived, the young boy was now giving out his own candy to the trick or treaters. Nobody was able to determine if the young boy was doing this because of a spirit of generosity, or due to peer pressure.
What was memorable was granny materialized in the doorway, deciding that this was unacceptable, and that the current party at the door was gonna get a lecturin’. Per my kids, there was copious amounts of finger waggin’, some browbeatin’, and a few “In my day we walked to school uphill in the snow both ways” thrown in for good measure.
“Okay BOOMER!” piped up Michelle* from the back of the group.
Well, I guess that just shut the discussion down right there, if you can call it a discussion. The door got slammed, the party of miscreants supposedly were puzzled for about 5 seconds, busted out in laughter, then walked away giggling, and here we are talking about it at dinner.
When I heard this, I let rip with a good guffaw.
Michelle is one of my daughter’s friends and is this tiny little Irish pixie. She comes from a good Catholic family we know well, and has always been exceptionally polite. The thought of dainty little Michelle dropping the boom on a boomer with “Okay BOOMER” was just hysterical to me. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best idea to be encouraging bad behavior by laughing at the situation, but the situation got the better of me.
“Please don’t tell her dad,” my daughter said while grinning.
“I’m not gonna say anything. She probably needs to bring this up next time she goes to confession, but I am not gonna rat her out to her dad. Besides it’s borderline cosmic justice,” I informed her.
“Cosmic What???” My son queried.
“Justice, Cosmic Justice my boy!” I returned.
I had to launch into a long-winded explanation to my kids that Generation X has a particular viewpoint on the Boomer generation, that neither the Millennials nor the Zoomers understand.
I laid out the Generation X view on their Boomer parents, and Greatest Generation or sometimes Silent Generation grandparents.** I walked them down how we witnessed the Boomer’s disdain for their parents’ traditions. I noted the lack of church attendance, their love of easy divorce, the lack of interest in their own children, and bore witness to their slavish obsession with material goods and sex.
In many ways, if it wasn’t for the English language and location, you would swear that the Boomers came from one country and the Greats came from another. The Boomers’ cultural revolution had so thoroughly cast off their parents’ morals & customs that they had in essence created an entirely different nation.
“So they called it a revolution, but really it was a rebellion,” I finished up.
“Rebellion? Grandpa doesn’t really seem the rebellious type dad,” My son stated flatly
“Yeah, Grandpa is really kinda a square, dad, he won’t even get a smart phone!” My daughter added.
“You never met your Great Grandfather. If you compared your Grandfather to your Great Grandfather, you would understand the difference. That generation had a way of doing almost everything differently”
“So will our kids rebel against us?” My son asked.
This was a brilliant, yet very needling question. Will my children rebel against me, will their children rebel against them? I certainly hope not, but the truth is it’s a very real threat.
This is the nasty part about rebellions. Once started, they rarely stay within the confines that the originators thought they could impose upon them. The Boomers’ cultural revolution had so thoroughly unmoored American popular culture from its origin, that it was practically preordained that their children and following generations would do the same to them. Hence the disdain being visited upon the Boomers is no less than what Boomers laid upon their predecessors.
Yet at some point, the rebellion must stop.
“Your generation is going to have a huge task ahead of you. You are going to have to rebuild morality back into the nation, and pass that on to your children,” I stated.
“How are we going to do that? That’s huge!” said my son.
“Go to Church, and I mean really go. Go to confession, participate in Lent, fast regularly, participate in the feasts and special services…”
“How does that rebuild the culture? That’s not like music and stuff!” My son retorted.
“That IS culture. Think about the hymns we sing and chant. They are beautiful and we can sing them so much that we don’t forget the melody. What about the prayers we repeat? You can practically repeat those in your sleep. Think about the Christians in the Middle Ages. This is what they did, and the Church was at the center of the culture. Start from where they started and you will have a significant portion of the restoration done,” I stated.
“Is that it?” My daughter asked.
“Have big families, lots and lots of kids!” I stated.
“You just want lots of grandkids to tease!” She shot back.
“What’s the point in having kids, if you can’t tease them! And yes, I want to be surrounded by my own clan! Lots of them!” I shot back.
The rest of the night continued on with us going back and forth, but I was pretty happy having the opportunity to plant the seed of cultural rebirth from a funny story.
*Not Her Real Name
** Yes, early X’ers tend to have Silent Parents; later X’ers tend to have Boomer Parents.