COLUMN: Reflections on family and generation gap

This week’s column looks at families and generations

Another late August day had burned itself out, and the night air, soft like summer, had tossed a comforting grey blanket of darkness around us.

I was serving cake and ice cream to the little crowd gathered around my kitchen. I marveled briefly at my own humble attempt at Black Forest Cake, as I carefully placed the generous slabs on plates.

I like my kitchen.

That being said I must admit I like being out of it as well. There are, however, those rare occasions when I plan, chop, peel and slice, finally serving the hungry people at my table and creativity and perfection gel like they are supposed to. At times like that I feel like the planets and the stars are aligned and all is right with the world.

My black forest cake was not a perfect example of creativity and perfection, but close. Really close.

The cake was made in the honour of the soon-to-be 15-year-old in the crowd and the batter was stirred with lots of love and a hand-made wooden spoon.

When I got over thinking about my black forest cake and how the cherry filling could be a little thicker, I started thinking about us, the people in this room.

At almost 15 my granddaughter was the youngest family member present. The next in line was her 16-year-old cousin.

And then there were her parents. The next generation. And finally us.

The old people.

Three generations of family brought together by one single birthday.

Three generations separated not only by age, but by life styles.

My sister, long since retired, is a gold medal winner in the 55+ games. She is also a writer and her last story about the Edmonton Grads is being published.

She is no stranger to winning. As far back as I can remember, she has won medals and awards. It seems to come naturally to her, kind of like breathing.

My sister is used to being recognized for her achievements in the traditional way. She, herself, is traditional; carefully cutting out newspaper articles and pasting them into photograph albums and books.

So when people tell her the story of her winnings is posted all over Facebook, she is completely confused. And when I tell her the post got tons of ‘likes’ she looks at me like I am some kind of alien.

“Trust me, it’s a good thing,” I reassure her.

The teenagers love their aunt. They especially love her handwriting, which they say is exquisitely beautiful and quite unlike anything they have ever seen.

“She doesn’t even know how to text,” I mutter under my breath, and they look at me, totally amazed.

The teens themselves are as diverse and unique as snowflakes.

One is a farm girl, who knows everything there is to know about cows.

She loves kittens and cows, mostly cows.

The other is a city girl, who also loves soft and furry things like kittens and puppies. I’m not so sure how she feels about cows, though!

The teens both wear the optimism of youth with casual confidence, like a pair of faded blue jeans.

And then there are the parents.

They are the sandwich generation, wearing the responsibility of careers, children and aging parents with much of the optimism of their teenage counterparts, tempered only slightly with some weariness.

I smile at them all and serve more cake and think about life’s little blessings and the quiet happiness a simple birthday celebration can bring.

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