This Article is About
little snippets
family gatherings
melting pot
life experiences
american dream
adulthood
disagreement
aunts
uncles
Glimpses Of Times Past
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Glimpses Of Times Past

When I was a young boy I didn’t particularly appreciate or value extended family gatherings. It was the “old country" custom to have all the uncles and aunts and cousins get together about once a week or so for a Sunday meal. It was always some sort of pasta and some kind of meat to go along with the wine and orange and ginger ale soda. The kids would generally eat very quickly and take off, leaving the old folks to sit around the table and talk and talk and talk. I would catch little snippets of conversation enough to hear that they would discuss things like family history, life experiences in the new country (along with plenty of opinions and advice), religion, and sometimes just gossip. Occasionally big arguments would break out, but not very often, as the result of such a disagreement might mean the temporary banishing of the offending party from future gatherings for a while.

As time passed, the gatherings became less frequent as each family grew and the American dream of unlimited opportunity demanded more and more of the adults’ time and attention. After all, the old saying that the streets of America were paved with gold wasn’t exactly accurate as these immigrants soon discovered. The real story was that the streets of America were laden with the opportunity to prosper for those ready, willing and able to work their asses off for it, and they generally did.

The upside was of course the prosperity which could not be had in the old country. The downside to this American dream was the sacrificing of family time and attention. It was something that occurred gradually over time, a deceptive alteration of customs handed down for generations, lost in one, here in America. As it occurred slowly over many years, it is now in my adulthood that I realize what was lost in the great melting pot and how this first generation son was taken in by it as well.

In addition to the pursuit of the American dream, the wide availability of television sealed the deal to end quality family time as it was once practiced. If a television couldn’t be located in sight of the dinner table, then the invention of the TV tray made it possible to eat and zone out quite effectively anywhere a TV was located.

It is only now, many years after my mother has passed that I realize what she meant when she said that America was good for only one thing, and that was to make money. She saw how the fabric of the family was torn apart and she hated that it was the price to be paid for the material well being of the family, but the cost was awfully high.

The regrets for the past cannot be altered, but the future has yet to be written. My glimpse of a new vision is that I take the time and effort and the initiative to gather friends and family around a dinner table with no TV in sight. There would be pasta and vegetables, wine and Smart Water. We would talk and talk and talk. We would delve into our family histories, or daily experiences, or speak of spiritual and philosophical matters. We would connect on whatever level was possible and encourage, advise, console, support, amuse, even entertain each other, whether family or not. My mother would be pleased and I would be taking a positive step to fill one of the many holes of neglect in my own life.


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