This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm
November 20th, 2006

Family Foundations

I started a grocery list this afternoon, and noticed how short it is these days. It is Thanksgiving week, Thursday being the big day. No company coming this year, so if there is a turkey at all it will out of necessity be a small one. Unfortunately no one has marketed a turkey for two.

We could go out for dinner, but what fun is that? Well, it's nice not having to cook, but no left-overs just won't do either. What is Thanksgiving without the promise of a nice turkey sandwich later?

One of the most memorable holiday meals I recall was in 1998. We had moved here to the Pacific Northwest in the spring, but in establishing a business we really didn't socialize much. We barely fished! But we did meet some people through the business and one couple invited us to a holiday dinner. It was Christmas actually, but it was the thought which counted. We were not their only dinner guests. I think there were about ten others, some couples like us, and a couple of single men. Kathy and Jim were offering their version of 'family' for those of us who were new to the area and without family here. There was a turkey with all the trimmings and more special for JC, a huge blue granite canner full of perfectly cooked steamed manilla clams. A true feast. They even had a small gift for everyone. I've never forgotten what an exceptionally kind thing they did for all of us.

Even in the time since then, things have changed remarkably. We bought the house where we live in 1990. We have had three changes of neighbors on one side, and probably six or more in the rental house on the other side. The property across the street changed hands four times. Some of the 'retired' military on our street are still here, but it is an indication of the state of life in our region at least. I'm told the average time an American family spends in a house they 'buy' is three years.

Not really enough time to put down much for roots. Ever notice how trees with small root systems fall over in a bad wind? Big trees, like our maples out here, have huge root systems - and if you've ever cut one down you know you're going to be coming across those roots for many years.

Families have become smaller over the years. Our grandfathers and great-grandfathers sired big families because many hands made lighter work. Life was hard and it was shared across the family. As we modernized, families became smaller. Many married couples don't have any children. Children are no longer a 'necessity' in life. One of my daughters was quite upset with one of her sisters who was having a second child. Her comment was to the effect of "How are they going to afford educating two kids?" The answer was her sister went back to school, finished her degree and is now teaching. Two kids, two parents working...and two latch key children.

I'm not complaining, I was a latch-key kid. My folks both worked out of necessity. And I got an education and turned out reasonably well-adjusted. I am saying our world is changing and we need to hold on to what we can. The "traditional" parts really are important. They become part of who we are. A foundation to build on.

Norman Rockwell painting

JC and I hope you and yours have a real Thanksgiving. Give thanks and be grateful. Hold those near and dear to you close. God Bless us all. ~ LadyFisher

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