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Jewish World Review
Nov. 19, 2010
/ 11 Kislev, 5771
Over the river and through the traffic
For much of my childhood, our holidays were standard. We drove out in the country to my grandparents' farm where cars lined the gravel lane to the big farmhouse with the wraparound porch. We traipsed inside, threw our coats on the bed and joined 20 other cousins.
There were kids everywhere, around the table, under the table, babies on top of the table. There were kids hiding behind chairs, behind the sofas and shy ones wrapped in the living room drapes.
When it was time to eat, we formed a line, loaded our heavy-duty Chinet paper plates and ate until our faces grew so fat that our round cheeks squished our tiny eyes. We drew pictures in the condensation on the windows, tried to pet the nervous Chihuahua hiding in Grandma's closet and grew louder and louder until we created such mayhem that an adult would yell that all the kids should "GET OUTSIDE!"
Once outside we charged the chickens, played hide-and-seek in the woods, chased the cats in the hayloft, and spooked the milk cows. We created more mayhem until an adult would yell that it was dark and all the kids should "GET INSIDE!"
Once inside, we loaded our plates again. Aunts and uncles jabbered and drank strong black coffee, babies bawled, a card game started, everyone talked and laughed and hollered until that big house shook and rattled and nearly split at the seams.
And then the holidays weren't standard anymore. Grandma and Grandpa moved to town. My uncle in the Air Force and his family moved overseas, another uncle and his family moved west, our family moved south and the holidays changed.
Large family gatherings were no longer standard. Like other families, ours was dispersed by job changes, state lines and suburban subdivisions.
And now the next generation has raised families, and they, too, have dispersed. Getting together requires considerable effort. Car travel. Air travel. Over the river and through the wood is long gone. Getting to Grandma's can be a drag. Getting kids to unplug from all the electronics can be a drag. Singing in the car? Unlikely, but possible. And in case you are so inclined, I offer an updated version of a holiday classic to reflect the changing times.
Over the ribbons of interstate
To grandfather's house we drive
GPS knows the way
To shorten the day
And get us there by five! Hey!
The youngins are watching a DVD
Bro's glued to his new iPad
No civil word
For miles is heard
And boy is Momma mad! Oh!
There's Grandma and Grandpa on the porch
Uncle John inside the door
Games on the stairs
Looks like a great big bore! Oh!
Grandma is taking away my cell
She says to get with the plan
Log face time
It's not a crime
Thanksgiving won't be so bland. Hey!
Tables are creaking with platters of food
Turkey and sides galore
We're eating like hounds
Acting like clowns
So why don't we do this more? Hey!
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JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of , most recently, "Catching Christmas" (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) and I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids To comment, please click here. To visit her website click here.
© 2009, Lori Borgman