Keep Thanksgiving Family Feast Fresh, Not Frozen in Time

14 11 2008

. . .and I’m talking about family, not food.  Welcome new faces around America’s ever-growing and changing family table!

Maybe it’s because I’ve always lived in college towns, but every happy family I know, even the real sticklers for tradition, goes by the most expandable, generous definition of family imaginable during the holidays. And miraculously escapes weakening itself!

No family I know, even the most traditional, freezes the family guest list year after year, or soon we’d all be Miss Havisham, a lonely corpse at an unchanging table for one.

miss-havishams-table

You remember this tragic classic, right? She found her love and meant to marry, to create a new family with whom to live and change throughout her life and give thanks for sunlight and growth and wisdom and memories.

But instead Miss Havisham was denied marriage. Without the marriage her heart desired, everything human about her shriveled up and died; she became something so terrible inside and out, that we say it’s impossible: hell frozen over.

She is manic and often seems insane, flitting around her house in a faded wedding dress, keeping a decaying feast on her table, and surrounding herself with clocks stopped at twenty minutes to nine.

. . . Dickens’s own notes indicate that she is only in her mid-fifties. However, it is also indicated that her long life away from the sunlight has in itself aged her, and she is said to look like a cross between a waxwork and a skeleton, with moving eyes.

This November I will give thanks and have hope, that America’s Thanksgiving feast won’t be left decaying on the table, surrounded by a “traditional” home full of clocks stopped at 20 minutes to Prop 8.   But I have to wonder — do we value “the American family” as merely waxwork and skeleton, or a true feast of loving and sharing life, fresh even as it endures, growing and changing and surprising and delighting, even as it honors and celebrates tradition?

Miss Havisham frozen in darkness doesn’t protect her from change. All the damage and decay happens anyway, quicker by clock but an eternity of suffering.

Nance’s 2006 post is both fresh and traditional for this Thanksgiving, especially if it encourages us to recast our own definition of the American family, to invite lonely hearts of Florida and California and Arizona in from their isolation, to share the true-story happy ending of family values by welcoming everyone to the table.

*****************
Another reason to homeschool — you can enjoy your family at Thanksgiving. Or any other time of the year!

rockwell.jpg

Without having to fight with the school principal about it —

Work & Family: Keeping kids out of school for family trips

As Thanksgiving nears, Martha Winokur is mounting a minor revolt — against her 17-year-old son’s school.

The school explicitly prohibits missing classes for family vacations and imposes a work penalty on students who do, such as raking leaves or scraping gum off desks. But Ms. Winokur’s family is planning a reunion starting the weekend before Thanksgiving, and she has decided her son will miss school to attend.

“I know it’s against the rules,” the Needham, Mass., mother says she told the school’s dean last week in an email. “But we’re doing it anyway.”

More parents are pulling their kids out of school for family vacations.  Some 61 percent of travelers say they would take their children out of school for a family trip, up from 57 percent in 2003 and 45 percent in 2000, says a 2006 survey of 1,600 travelers by Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell, a travel marketing and research concern in Orlando, Fla. Other research shows the trips are increasingly likely to happen during the travel off-season in the fall.

The trend reflects a shift in values toward more family time.

. . .

Thank goodness — parents fighting for family values!

. . .
Missing the learning that takes place in the classroom puts a student at a disadvantage, Mr. Rost says.

Really, are the schools concerned about the students? Really??

In the 2 1/2 years John Dodig has been principal at Staples High School in Westport, Conn., he has sharply restricted family-vacation absences. He, too, cites the “high stakes academically.” At a previous school where Mr. Dodig was principal, one family asked to take their son, a senior, overseas during school because the trip was 50 percent cheaper in the off-season. Mr. Dodig refused.

“It came down to drawing a line in the sand and being looked directly in the eye” by the parent who asked, ‘Are you really going to hold my child to this?'” Mr. Dodig says. “The answer was yes.” The family went anyway, and the student was required to attend summer school before graduating.

Schools feel mounting pressure to have all students in class. Falling attendance can affect schools’ ratings under the federal No Child Left Behind law; under some state formulas, schools may even lose some funding. Also, growing emphasis on standardized testing is making teachers less flexible about the alternative assignments they permit.

. . .

Ah, yes, that sounds more like it.

Read on for more ways the schools try to control every moment of your life.

And how some parents aren’t putting up with it.

Despite the obstacles, a growing number of parents say deciding to travel anyway is a no-brainer. Ms. Winokur’s family reunion later this month will bring together in Florida 24 cousins, siblings and grandparents from four distant states. “I am respectful” of school policies, Ms. Winokur says. “But life is short, and in a few years the school will not be there” for her son. “But the family will.”

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12 responses

15 11 2008
NanceConfer

I’ve added this topic to the Thinking Parents Wiki here: — “How do the recent votes to ban gay marriage fit with your holiday traditions and ideas of family?”

I put in a very loose November/December “deadline.”

I don’t know how to create a new page at the Wiki though, the page where all of our blog posts would be listed. Chris?

Nance

15 11 2008
JJ

Initiative, I like it! 🙂

While you’re over there playing around, Nance, could you get one of those fine Thinking Parent logos from the main page and install it here on Snook’s homepage?

16 11 2008
COD

I missed most of the first two weeks of school my senior year as my family was in HI on a contract mandated 2 week break from life on Kwajalein. (Yes, we took a break from island life by going to a bigger island. Don’t ask. I’m still pissed at my parents for not flying south to Australia instead of north to fracking Honolulu) Being a DoD school, there was no issue with it being “allowed” although my Calculus teacher told me I would never catch up with her challenging class. I’ve still got the note she wrote to my parents at the end of the year when I proved her wrong 🙂

16 11 2008
COD

I fixed the wiki. All you had to do was enclose your title in [[ ]] and it creates the link.

16 11 2008
JJ

What did she write in the note, Chris? Did she say it was all part of her clever plan to motivate you into achieving up to your potential?

16 11 2008
COD

She told my parents that she had told me I would never survive her class starting two weeks late, and that in every quarter she thought I was on the verge of not making it, yet I always managed to pull it out in the end, and that kind of perseverance was a strong trait that would serve me well in life, or something like that.

16 11 2008
JJ

Well you gotta admit, looks like she got something right!

16 11 2008
Nance Confer

Thanks, Chris.

Nance

17 11 2008
COD

Well, the almost blowing it every quarter probably had a lot more to do with senioritis than it did with any lack of ability!

17 11 2008
Is Love Despite Our Differences Moral, As Moral of Story? « Cocking A Snook!

[…] transcends boundaries too, like school schedules for instance, We love being different as a family, which in this case means we’re free to love new movies […]

20 11 2008
EndOfTheLine

When I was a kid my family went on several trips every year…camping, skiing…it is one of my most chereished memories, our family vacations. We usually took a week off at a time and my mom simply went to the school and requested my teacher get the weeks work together and I did it while on vacation and my mom returned the completed work when we returned from vacation. No big deal. It is ridiculous to think one needs ‘permission’ to go on a vacation. But then, all the things I needed to know in life all came from my mama. I know without a doubt the things my daughters will take with them aren’t the acedemic things, but the heart things…

21 09 2009
Science Fiction — and Anti-science Fiction? « Cocking A Snook!

[…] a made-for-tv sy-fy whopper on cable news via some conservative political convention called a Family Values event this weekend: “God chose me for that moment!” she thrills . . […]

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