Tuesday, September 5, 2023


There's this thing that goes around social media from time to time. It's about the idea that when we were younger, we used to all get together at grandma's house, but once grandma dies, we don't get together like we used to. 

It's meant for nostalgia and a little bit of that wishing for the way things used to be. And certainly, I understand what it's talking about. 

But it misses the bigger picture of the way things really work. 

For us, our lives are formed by these early experiences. We come to think they are normative, that they are normal. We spend holidays at grandma's house with the aunts and the uncles and the cousins and that's the way it's always been. Except that's not the way it's always been. 

When your grandma was little, everyone didn't come to her house for the holidays. No. She went to her grandma's house for the holidays. She had relationships with her extended family there. She saw her aunts and uncles and cousins all the time. And she, too, probably mourned when those days came to an end. 

But when your grandma became a mother herself, the family get-togethers started to shift. All of a sudden, the grandparents' house was not her grandparents' house, but her parents' house. Mom and dad became the new grandma and grandpa and the whole make-up of the get-together changed. Now, your grandma's brothers and sisters were the aunts and uncles. Their kids were the cousins. 

And by the time you came along, the focus had shifted once again to, well, your grandma's generation. 

Then, when your grandma passes on, it will shift again and your parents, who are likely by now grandparents to your children, become the center of the family universe. A different shape of the family - different uncles, aunts, cousins, but family nonetheless. 

This is how the family tree works. This is how it gets all of the branches that it has. As time passes and generations come of age, groups break off and start to make their own branches with new places of gathering. Certainly, it's still a blessing when you can get together with the great- or great-great-generation, but the norm itself is still in place - there's still grandma's house. It's just that "grandma" is one generation younger these days. 

As it's supposed to be. 

Some families, at these points, feel like they're falling apart. They grieve what they're losing, those moments that are becoming just memories. Some try to cling to them. Some rant and rave. Some try to organize to keep things going and prevent the natural, necessary spread that is coming in the next generation. But this is the way things work, my friends. This is how we are meant to grow as time passes and as generations...generate. 

One day, your kids will grow up and they will be in that in-between generation where they miss the days they spent at grandma's without ever even realizing, perhaps, that those are the very days their own kids are living right now - days at their grandma's. 

I think about this every time I see that sentiment making its rounds on social media. I understand the nostalgia, but...this is the way things are supposed to be. 

And right now, as I reflect on this yet again, I find that I am also thinking about the church....  

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