In 1955, there were 24 people at the Wintwell house for Thanksgiving. Aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, Mom and Dad. Most of the guests walked to the house, since they all lived within a couple of blocks of each other. Uncle Fred didn’t come; he had settled in Los Angeles after the war. Except for the turkey and the Sunday clothes, it wasn’t much different than a normal day at the Wintwell house. Every day was pretty much a family gathering.
Last Thanksgiving, there were eight people at the Wintwells’. No one walked, no one lived within a couple blocks of each other. No one lived within a couple of states of each other. Four of them had to fly in and two had day-long drives.
Fred and Karin flew in from Denver. They spend alternate holidays between families, Thanksgiving at one house, Christmas at another. They have to fly to get to both of them. Sally and Haywood flew in from Chicago. They live in Chicago, but it still takes them almost an hour to get to O’Hare on a good day. On holidays, it’s more like two hours. The good news is that most of their flying is free. On almost every holiday flight they book, an announcement is made that if someone will give up their seats, the airline will put them on the very next flight out and give them a free trip to anywhere in the states. They almost always take the offer. Once they took two offers in one day.
None of their kids, the Wintwells’ grandchildren, could make it. The kids that grew up in Colorado wanted to go to college in California. The kids that grew up in Chicago wanted to go to New York or Boston. But mostly they want to go to the University of Getting Away From My Parents. Then they take jobs in Getting Away From My Parents’ State, then they marry people who are Nothing Like My Parents. Families haven’t drifted apart, they’ve exploded. And the strange thing is, they get their parents to pay for it.